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Full text of "Six months in Ascension : an unscientific account of a scientific expedition"

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SIX MONTHS 



ASCENSION 



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SIX MONTHS 

IN 

A S C E N S 1,0, N,„,- 

In litsmntifir %mm\ ^ a ^cientifijt ®,¥pMti0n; 



By MKS. gill. 

V 



WITH A MAP. 



LONDON : 
JOHN MUREAY, ALBEMARLE STREET. 

1878. 
\ThQ Right of Translation is reserved.] 



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Dr^7/ 

MQS- 



ii/iU 



••• • #,* * '•• • • 



PHELAM 

LONDON : 
BRADBURY, AGNEW, & CO., PRINTERS, WIlITEFRIARS 



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.^^' 



g^iritahir 



TO 

SAMUEL SMILES LL.D., 

WITH THE ESTEEM AND GKATITUDE 
OF 

THE AUTHOR. 



774411 

/Google 



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INTEODUCTION. 



A SCIENTIFIC expedition may be said to have two 
histories. The one treats of the special object of the 
expedition, the other of the personal adventures of 
those concerned in it. It is only the former which 
finds permanent record in the Transactions of scientific 
societies : the other too often remains unwritten. 

For many reasons I think this is a matter of regret. 
Mere details of observations are never looked at, ex- 
cept by a very limited number of specialists ; to the 
general public such details are meaningless as well 
as inaccessible ; whilst the ordinary student usually 
accepts the result merely as he finds it quoted in some 
standard work or text-book. 

It is not because popular accounts of such expe- 
ditions do not interest a sufficient circle of readers that 
they have not been more frequently written, but rather, 
I think, because the faculties of original research and 
popular exposition are seldom united in the same 



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viii Introdtution. 



individual. Besides this, I have found in my own 
experience, that on such expeditions there is so much 
actual work to be done, and the hours are so com- 
pletely filled with it, that there is neither time nor 
inclination to write a diary. Thus, before the story can 
be committed to writing, it has lost its crispness — the 
interest has faded, and, from treacherous memory, inci- 
dent is wanting to complete the narrative. On my 
expedition to Ascension last year, however, I had the 
good fortune to be accompanied by my wife, who found 
much pleasure and interest in making a daily record 
of our life and work there. This little book, compiled 
from her journal, she now lays before the public with 
much diffidence. It is an honest endeavour to tell a 
true story, and add somewhat to a neglected class of 
literature ; as such, she hopes that the faults incidental 
to a first work wUl meet with lenient judgment. 

The story can boast of no stirring interest, no 
thrilling adventures by land or sea. It must derive its 
interest chiefly from its truthfulness as a record of an 
attempt to solve a great problem, viz., the distance of 
the Earth from the Sun. The nature of this problem 
my wife explains in Chapter I. sufficiently, I think, to 
make it of interest to the many that would gladly learn 
something of the history of scientific progress, but 
who are often deterred from so doing by the minute 



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Introduction, 



IX 



details and heavy technicalities with which its every 
step is necessarily encumbered. 

To the best of her ability she has given om side of 
the history of one step. . 

It now remains for me to preface her chronicle 
by a brief outline of the labours of those who have 
worked before in the same field of research. 

The first attempt to measure the Sun's distance was 

made as follows. 

In the diagram suppose s the Sun, m the Moon, and 

E an observer on the Earth. When the angle s m e is 

a right angle, the Moon will be exactly 

half full. If it is less than a right 

angle the Moon will appear less than 

half illuminated to an observer at b, 

and vice versd. Hence, if the angle 

s E M is accurately measured at the 

instant when the Moon is half fuU, the 

proportions of the triangle s e m will 

ngle s M E 
the angle 

ed by measurement, one 
own ; the triangle s e m 
per, or its proportions may 




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Introduction. 



Since e m represents the distance of the Earth 
from the Moon at the instant of observation, the pro- 
portion of this distance to that of the Sun (represented 
by the line e s) is determined. 

In this way Aristarchus of Samos concluded that 
the Sun was nineteen times more distant than the 
Moon. This distance we now know to be more than 
twenty times too small — and the reason of his failure 
was twofold. 1st. Because, from the irregularity of 
the Moon's surface, it is almost impossible to estimate 
when she is exactly half full ; 2nd. Because his means 
of measuring the angle of s e m were rude and 
imperfect. The result of Aristarchus was however 
adopted by astronomers till the time of Kepler. 

About the year 1620, from the observations of Tycho 
Brah^ on the planet Mars, Kepler concluded that 
the distance of the Sun must amount at least to 1800 
diameters of the Earth, upon which he was upbraided 
by his friend Criiger " for removing the Sun to such a 
huge distance." 

The first approximation to a true determination 
was the result of an expedition organized by the 
French astronomer, Cassini. Richer had been sent 
to South Anierica by the French Academy. On the 
1st of October, 1672, the planet Mars approached 
very close to a bright star (\/r Aquarii), and, from 



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Introdtutwn. xi 



observations made by Richer in Cayenne, and by 
Picard and Bomer in France, Cassini concluded that 
the Sun's distance must be at least 86 millions of miles. 

The results were, however, liable to very con- 
siderable uncertainty. This was due to the imperfect 
instruments of the time, by means of which it was 
hardly possible to measure angles with the required 
accuracy. 

The first satisfactory step in advance is due to 
the Abbe de la Caille, whose celebrated expedition to 
the Cape of Good Hope took place in the year 1740. 
There he made a large number of observations of Mars, 
and from these, compared with corresponding observa- 
tions in the Northern Hemisphere, deduced 81t^ 
millions of miles for the Sun's distance. He after- 
wards combined this result with similar observations 
on the planet Venus, and arrived at Sl-j^g. millions of 
miles as a final result. 

In the meantime, however, the English astronomer 
Halley had gone to St. Helena, where he observed the 
Transit of Mercury on the 28th of October, 1677 (see 
Chap. III. p. 33), and this suggested to him the 
method of determining the Sun's distance by the 
Transits of Venus which would take place in the years 
1761 and 1769. 

In two remarkable memoirs presented to the Eoyal 



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xii Introduction. 



Society of London in 1691 and 1716, he pointed 
out the great advantages of this method, and urged 
upon astronomers the necessity of providing for the 
complete and accurate observation of these phenomena. 
Accordingly, in 1761, England sent Maskeljne to 
St. Helena, and Mason and Dixon were dispatched to 
Sumatra. The two latter astronomers were so delayed 
by the way, that, fearing they would not reach the 
appointed station in time, they decided to remain at 
the Cape of Good Hope ; and the decision proved a 
fortunate one. 

The St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences sent 
Chappe to Tobolsk, and Rumowski to Selinghinsk 
near Lake Baikil in Siberia. 

The French sent Pingre to the Island of Rodriguez, 
and Le Gentil should have observed at Pondicherry. 

Poor Le Gentil! He duly reached Mauritius on 
the 10th of July, 1760 — nearly a year before the 
Transit War having meanwhile broken out between 
France and England, he was unable to reach Pon- 
dicherry; so he resolved to go to the Island of 
Rodriguez instead, to join Pingre, who was already 
there. When on the point of starting for Rodriguez, 
he learned that a French frigate was about to sail from 
Mauritius for the coast of Coromandel. Le Gentil 
decided to avail himself of the opportunity thus 



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Introduction. xiii 



offered to reach the point chosen by the Academy ; but 
one delay after another occurred, and it was not until 
the middle of March that he sailed again from 
Mauritius. There was not much time to be lost, for 
the Transit would occur on the 6th of June. De- 
tained by frequent calms he did not reach the coast of 
Malabar till the 24th of May. Still there might have 
been time enough to prepare for the observation, had 
not the commander of the frigate learned that the 
English were masters of Mahe and Pondicherry. His 
only chance to escape capture was to make off as 
quickly as possible. This he did; steering a course 
for Mauritius again, to Le Gentil's utmost despair. 

The 6th of June arrived. The sky was gloriously 
clear. From the deck of the vessel Le Gentil made 
the best observations he could ; but, from so unsteady 
a platform, they could be of little value to science. 

Other observers had better fortune ; but the results 
when computed proved far from satisfactory. Different 
astronomers obtained results varying from 81 J to 96 J 
millions of miles ; not because there was any error in 
the method, but because the observations were dis- 
cordant 

The difficulties of actual observation proved to be 
far greater than had been anticipated. Instead ol 
precise phenomena at contact, only a gradual merging, 



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xiv Introduction. 



or a gradual separation of the limbs of Venus and 
the Sun could be observed* Thus different inter- 
pretations could be put upon the language of the 
observers; and, according to the interpretations, so 
"was the result. 

But the failure of the Transit of 1761 only urged 
to new effort for that of 1769. Astronomers through- 
out the world felt that if the opportunity, which 
would then occur, was lost, another so favourable for 
determining the Sun's Distance would not occur again 
for 105 years. Accordingly, the most strenuous exer- 
tions were made to provide for its proper observa- 
tion. Encke has well said, " Whatever may be the 
future judgment as to the actual issue, posterity will 
never be able to reproach either the astronomers or 
the governments of that period with having neglected 
to call sufficiently careful attention to the more im- 
portant points, or with having failed to further and 
support scientific efforts with sufficient readiness." 

It would occupy too much space to follow the adven- 
tures of all the observers, but some of them cannot be 
passed over without mention. 

The French astronomer, Le Gentil — whose endeavours 
to observe the Transit of Venus in 1761 were defeated 
in the way already described — had no sooner returned 
to Mauritius than he set out again for Pondicherry, 



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Introduction. xv 



determined to wait there, for eight years, till the 
next Transit of Venus. 

The eventful 3rd of June, 1769, at last arrived. 

The morning was fine, and everything promised a 
happy issue. But, just as the critical moment ap- 
proached, an unfortunate cloud eclipsed the Sun, a 
torrent of rain descended, and the fruit of eight years' 
waiting was lost. Le Gentil had profitably employed 
his time in studying the astronomy of the Brahmins, 
so his eight years in Pondicherry had been well occu- 
pied ; but the agony of disappointment he must have 
felt at the defeat of his noble endeavours cannot but 
enlist the sympathy of all who know his story. 

It was intended that the French astronomer Chappe, 
who in 1761 had observed the Transit of Venus at 
Tobolsk, should now observe it at the Solomon Islands. 
The Spanish Government, however, refused the neces- 
sary permission, but offered to convey him, along with 
two Spanish observers, to Mexico or California by a 
Spanish fleet then about to sail for South America. 

This offer was accepted. Chappe, with his Spanish 
colleagues, selected Cape Lucas, in California, and 
there observed the Transit successfully. But he did 
not live to tell the tale at home. The plague visited 
the district, and Chappe was one of its first victims. 
Three days after the Transit, he was attacked by the 



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xvi Introdtiction, 



malady, but had partly recovered, when his love of 
science led him to commit an imprudence which 
brought him to the grave. Despite his feeble condi- 
tion, he passed the night of the 18th of June in observ- 
ing an eclipse of the moon. A relapse ensued, and on 
the 1st of August he died. A short time before his 
death he said to his friends : " I know I have but a 
short time to live, but I have fulfilled my mission, and 
I die content." 

The English Government took a bolder course, and 
did not wait for the permission of the Spaniards to visit 
the South Seas. The celebrated Captain Cook in com- 
mand of the Endeavour^ with Green (a pupil of Brad- 
ley) for astronomer, and Solander (a pupil of Linne) 
for naturalist, sailed on the 22nd of September, 1768, 
for an unknown destination. The result was one of the 
most brilliant and successful scientific expeditions ever 
undertaken. The Transit of Venus was successfully 
observed by Green and Cook at Tahiti, one of the 
Sandwich Islands ; and much valuable work in con- 
nection with Natural History, Terrestrial Magnetism, 
and Hydrography, was accomplished. 

Another English expedition was sent to Hudson's 
Bay. There Dymock and Wales, after encountering a 
good many hardships, successfully observed the Transit ; 
and their observations acquired a special value, because 



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Introduction, xvii 



it unfortunately happened that those made at the 
other important northern station were liable to con- 
siderable suspicion. 

Father Hell, with his assistant, Father Sainovicz, 
was invited by the King of Denmark to observe the 
Transit of Venus in his dominions. In the month of 
June, 1768, they left Copenhagen, accompanied by 
Borgrewing, a Danish observer. They reached Ward- 
oehuus, in the north of Lapland, on the 1 1th of October, 
1768. Here they passed the winter, and duly observed 
the Transit of Venus in 1769. But numerous circum- 
stances tended to throw suspicion on Hell's observa- 
tions. In the first place, without any sufficient reason, 
he suppressed his observations for nine entire months, 
and many eminent astronomers did not hesitate to 
accuse him of having fabricated or changed them. 

In 1834, his original papers were presented to the 
Vienna Observatory by Baron Miinch-Bellinghausen, 
into whose hands they had come through the death of 

)n Penkler, an intimate friend and 

ill. 

*s investigation of these papers led 
Father Hell's original note-book 

2—4, 1769.* "These notes fully 

iccount in his admirable introduction to the 
Expedition to Chili. 

I 



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xviii Introduction, 



corroborate and justify previous suspicions. The cbief 
figures, especially the times of entrance upon the solar 
disc, had been for the most part erased, and with a 
darker coloured ink. Two passages, the one relating 
to the observations of Sainovicz, the other to those of 
Borgrewing, had been so thoroughly obliterated, that 
Professor Littrow was only able to conjecture the three 
first letters of the one and the first and last letter of 
the other. From an investigation of such figures as 
remained legible and unaltered, he succeeded in finding 
one observation of the Ingress by Borgrewing, and one 
of Egress by Hell, upon which reliance appears war- 
rantable." 

" Although in reply to Lalande, Father- Hell had 
publicly offered to exhibit the original note-book, free 
from erasures, and giving observations just as finally 
published by him, Littrow found both clear and 
undefaced documents containing the quantities as 
prepared for publication, and this note-book, which 
was as manifestly not designed for press. It contains 
remarks, notes, and comments in chronological order ; 
the handwriting is unequal and frequently changing, 
observations never made public are here noted down, 
together with many jottings and memoranda which 
could not have been intended for the public. The 
important observations were chiefly obliterated with 



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Introduction, xix 



great care and thoroughness, as were also sundry 
remarks concerning them. There can be no doubt 
that the evidence is sufficient to establish this note- 
book as being the identical one used at Wardoehuus, 
and that this establishment of identity discredits the 
published observations and the truthfulness of Father 
Hell, but provides few new figures upon which reliance 
may be placed," 

Encke also found another proof of Father Hell's 
dishonesty. An eclipse of the Sun occurred soon after 
the Transit of Venus of 1769, and aflforded an excel- 
lent means of checking the longitudes of the stations. 
Father Hell observed this eclipse, and fortunately 
did not change the original record in his note-book. 
The time he published, however, differed from the 
time he recorded by 41 seconds ; for, in his desire to 
publish better observations than he knew how to make, 
he altered his observation to agree with his computa- 
tion, which proved to have been founded on erroneous 
elements. His original record was afterwards found 
ion. 

lust throw the gravest doubt upon 
■ Father Hell, and give to the obser- 
i Wales an exceptional importance, 
ts obtained for the distance of the 
of 1769 did not differ so widely 

h 2 



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XX Introduction. 



as those of 1761, still the agreement was by no means 
satisfactory. 

Thus from the numerous results may be quoted the 
following 



Lalande obtained 

Father Hell 

Homsby 

Euler 

Pingr^ 

Laplace 



Sun's 




Distance 




96ft 


millions of miles. 


93ft 


i» 


93ft 


If 


92ft 


f» 


92ft 


i» 



92^ 



In 1835 Encke published his famous discussion of 
the Transits of Venus of 1761 and 1769. He found 

From the Transit of 1761 95^ millions of miles. 
1769 95^ 

From both Transits combined 95^ „ 

Encke's discussion met with the general approval of 
astronomers at the time, and for many years was 
accepted as the standard determination of the Sun's 
distance. 

In 1832, Henderson observed, at the Cape of Good 
Hope, the favourable Opposition of Mars of that 
year, and his observations, combined with similar 
ones at Greenwich, Cambridge and Altona in the 
Northern Hemisphere, gave 

90^ millions of miles 

for the Sun's distance. The results were, however. 



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Introduction. xxi 



not very accordant, and were not generally accepted as 
satisfactory. 

In 1847 Professor Gerling proposed the observation 
of the planet Venus, at observatories in the Northern 
and Southern hemispheres, as a good means of de- 
termining the Sun's distance. He argued that as Venus 
approaches nearer to the Earth than Mars, she pre- 
sents a more favourable opportunity for determining 
parallax. He also contended that the delicate and 
faint crescent form of Venus (like a very young moon 
when the planet is near conjunction) formed a tele- 
scopic object capable of the most accurate measure- 
ment. 

Professor Gerling's idea, however, did not assume 
practical shape till it was taken up by a zealous 
observer, Lieut. Gilles of the United States Navy. 
He applied to his chief to ask from Congress a grant 
of 1000^. for the expenses of an expedition to Chili. 
He proposed to observe there, not only the planet 
Venus, when near inferior conjunction (as suggested by 
Professor Gerling), but also the Oppositions of Mars 
which would occur in the years 1850 and 1852. 
was accepted. 

:o Chili, and there made more than 200 
nations of Mars and Venus together. 
:h this splendid mass of work, only 28 



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xxii Introduction. 



corresponding observations were made in the Northern 
Hemisphere, and even these do not appear to have 
been made with exceptional care, nor to possess the 
accuracy required in so delicate a research. The want of 
sympathy and support from astronomers, which Lieut. 
Gilles met with, is a blot upon the history of astro- 
nomy, and Dr. Gould, in the work I have already quoted, 
has well said, "It is impossible to refrain from the 
expression of deep regret that, from all the observations 
of the well-equipped and richly-endowed observatories 
of the Northern Hemisphere, so few materials could be 
found toward rendering available, according to its 
original purpose, an expedition to which so much 
labour and enthusiasm had been consecrated, and to 
which an accomplished observer, already known for 
the precision of his measurements, had devoted his 
entire energies during so long a sojourn (three years) ; 
moreover, after the preparation and wide dissemination 
of ephemerides and charts of the comparison stars for 
both the planets during the whole period." Dr. 
Gould has reduced the whole mass of observations 
with a loving care, and obtains the result 

96^ millions of miles 

a result confessedly unsatisfactory from the non-agree- 
ment of the various observations. 



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Introduction. xxiii 



Meanwhile theorists had been at work upon the 
motions of the Moon and Planets, — ^weighing one 
against the other, in fact, by finding how much their 
mutual attractions disturb each other. Some of these 
disturbances or inequalities depend upon the distance 
of the Earth from the Sun, that is to say, if the Earth 
were nearer the Sun, these inequalities would be greater 
and vice versi. It would be out of place to detail here 
the various results which have been derived from the 
application of these methods. I need only state 
that the results obtained about this time, by these 
methods, give from ^l-^ to 91xV millions of miles 
for the Sun's distance ; instead of 95 ^\ obtained by 
Encke from the Transits of Venus. 

In 1862 there occurred a very favourable Opposition 
of Mars. Dr. Winnecke, an astronomer of Pulkowa 
(the Imperial Observatory of Russia), drew up a pro- 
gramme of observations which was more or less per- 
fectly carried out at six observatories in the Northern, 
and at three observatories in the Southern Hemisphere. 
Two partial discussions of some of these observations 
appeared, giving Ql^-V and 91-^ millions of miles 
respectively for the Sun's distance. 

Then Mr. Stone rediscussed the Transit of Venus 
observations of 1769, employing only the observations 
in which both ingress and egress were observed. He 



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xxiv Introduction. 



included the suspected observations of Father Hell, 
and by interpreting differently the language of various 
observers, and applying certain corrections for different 
phases observed, he obtained 

91/jj millions of miles 

for the Sun's distance. This quantity was in satisfac- 
tory agreement with the results of the theoretical 
methods, and also with the recent results of the obser- 
vations of Mars. Not only was this the case, but also 
all the observations were brought into the most beau- 
tiful accord. The largest error of observing the dura- 
tion did not amount in any case to six seconds of time, 
and the probable error of one observation of duration 
taken by chance, was only two seconds of time. But 
the duration is made up of two contacts, so that two 
seconds combined the probable error of two contacts. 
According to the theory of probabilities, the probable 
error of one contact would then be two seconds divided 
by the square root oj two — in other words, the probable 
error of one observation of contact was only one second 
and four-tenths of a second of time. 

This result was accepted at the time with enthu- 
siasm, and Mr. Stone received the gold medal of the 
Royal Astronomical Society for his labours. 

About this time, however, Newcomb, the well-known 



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Introduction. xxv 



American astronomer, published his masterly discus- 
sion of the observations of Mars made at nine obser- 
vatories in the year 1862. The result arrived at was 

92}^ millions of miles 

for the Sun's distance. By his own rediscussion of some 
of the theoretical methods, Newcomb also showed that 
these could be reconciled with the result he found from 
the observations of Mars alone. He also pointed out 
that, according to a discussion by Powalky, the Transit 
of Venus of 1769 afforded a similar result, and by com- 
bining all the various methods, he arrived at the con- 
clusion that the true mean distance of the Sun is 

92>g millions of miles. 

An additional confirmation of Newcomb's result had 
been previously derived by Foucault from his determi- 
nation of the velocity of light. 

The angular velocity of the Earth's motion round the 
Sun is accurately known ; hence, if the Earth's linear 
mined, the radius of motion (f.^., 
ni also be determined. Now, the 
e velocity of light bears to the 
s motion is pretty well determined 
jrvation; for the fact that light 
time to travel, has the effect of 



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XX vi Introduction. 



shifting the apparent places of the stars. By deter- 
mining the maximum amount of this shifting (called 
the constant of aberration)^ the proportion of the velo- 
city of light to the mean velocity of the Earth's 
motion becomes known. Thus, if the velocity of light 
is determined, the velocity of the Earth's motion will 
become known, and hence the Sun's distance. 

The English astronomer, Bradley, was the first to 
trace out the cause of this shifting of the apparent 
places of the stars. 

The story is that the true explanation occurred 
to him as he was sailing in a boat on the Thames. 
The wind blew directly down the river, and, when the 
boat was at rest, the flag also was blown in a direction 
straight down the river ; but when he tacked to the 
right, the free end of the flag was carried to the left ; 
and when he tacked to the left, the free end of his flag 
was carried to the right. 

He had been much puzzled by changes in the 
apparent places of certain stars, which he could not ac- 
count for. Now the truth flashed upon him suddenly. 

The case is similar with my boat and its flag. The 
true direction of the wind represents the mean direc- 
tion of a star; the boat tacking from side to side 
represents the Earth in its yearly revolution going from 
one side of the Sun to the other. The deviation of the 



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Introdtcctton. xxvii 



flag from its true direction depends upon the velocity 
of the wind and the direction and velocity of the 
boat's motion. If, then, the velocity of light is not 
infinitely great, as compared with the velocity of the 
Earth's motion, the apparent place of a star must be 
changed according as the Earth is moving in one direc- 
tion or the other ; in the same way that the apparent 
direction of the flag is changed according to the direc- 
tion of the boat's motion. 

So Bradley set to work to reconcile his observations on 
this supposition, and succeeded perfectly, making, in so 
doing, the first determination of the constant of aberration. 
This constant he found to be 20''.2, whence he con- 
cluded that the velocity of light was 10,210 times as 
great as the velocity of the Earth's motion in its orbit. 
Succeeding astronomers have made careful determina- 
tions of the constant of aberration^ with various results 
from 20".2 to 20".6. 

The value of this constant which has most generally 

ice of astronomers is the result 

i0''.4451. 
found by Encke from the Transit 

rith Struve's value of the constant 

191 thousand miles per second as 

|r most ingenious optical and me- 



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xxviii Introduction. 



chanical arrangements actually determined the velocity 
of light, and found it to be between 186 and 186 
thousand miles per second, a velocity which, com- 
bined with Struve's value of the constant of aberration, 
gave 

92^ miUions of miles 

for the Sun's distance; a quantity in satisfactory 
accord with Newcomb's result. It was not until 1872, 
however, that Newcomb's conclusion received its most 
remarkable confirmation. In that year Leverrier 
communicated a paper to the Paris Academy of 
Sciences, in which he gave three values of the Sun's 
distance, which resulted from three independent re* 
searches in the theory of the Planets. 

1. From the motions of Mars 92^ millions of mUes. 

2. „ „ Venus 92^ 

3. Other motions of Venus 92i^ „ 

In such estimation did Leverrier hold the accuracy of 
these results, that he conceived it almost impossible 
that any direct means of observation could furnish a 
better determination. 

He proposed, as preferable to the Transit of Venus, 
the mode of determining the Sun's distance by obser- 
vations for the Velocity of Light and the Constant of 
Aberration, and recommended the Academy to take 
steps in these directions. 



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Introduction, xxix 



Of the Transit of Venus, he says, " the determina- 
tion of the Solar parallax by means of the Transit of 
Venus still retains all its interest, but conditionally 
on its being made with exceptional precision, so that 
the astronomer may be able to answer for it with an 
accuracy exceeding t4^ of a second of arc/' (This ac- 
curacy corresponds with -j^ of a million of miles in the 
Sun's distance). 

Leverrier did not believe that the Transit of Venus 
could yield such an accuracy ; and in this respect, as 
well as in regard to the accuracy of his theoretical con- 
clusions (confirmed as they were by Newcomb's results), 
Leverrier's opinion was shared by many astronomers. 

By others, however, this latter opinion of Leverrier's 
was not held, but it seemed desirable to all that the 
Transit of Venus of 1874 should be observed in the 
best possible manner. The aid of photography was 
called in ; the use of the most exquisite of all angle 
measuring instruments — the Heliometer — was dis- 
cussed and adopted ; volumes were written, and papers 
were read and discussed as to the best stations for ob- 
servation ; and all the astronomical talent of all nations 
busied itself in preparation. 

No scientific object ever before excited such widespread 
activity and interest ; or received from Governments 
and individuals such hearty and substantial assistance. 



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XXX 



Introduction. 



The extent of labour and of toil expended upon the 
Transit of 1874 may probably be gathered from a 
glance at the following table, prepared from the Report 
of the Council of the Royal Astronomical Society for 
the year 1876, showing the stations where the Transit 
was more or less successfully observed : — 



station. 


NationaUly. 


►si 


"s 


A 




Australia 










♦ Adelaide 


British 




2 






♦ Melbourne. . . 


»» 


1 


3 


200 




* Sydney . 


}} 


2 


2 


180 




* Windsor . . . 


»> 


1 


1 






Bunnah 












Bamo . 


? 


1 


1 






Beyrout . . . 


? 




1 






Cape of Good Hope 


British 




3 


ri 




Ceylon . . • . 


» 










Columbo . 


}» 


1 


1 






Egypt 












♦ Cairo . . . 


>» 




3 






Gondokoro . 


» 




1 






♦ Suez. . . . 


» 




1 






♦ Thebes . 


Bussian 




1 






♦ Thebes . . . 


German 




1 




1 


* Thebes . 


British 




1 


35 




India 












BuRhire. 


»» 


1 


1 






Calcutta . . . 


)) 


1 


1 






• Kurrachee . 


»» 










* Maddapore . . 


Italian 


1 


1 






* Roorkee 


British 


2 


2 


100 





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Introduction. 



XXXI 





1 German 


I 




\ 

E 


A 

If 


III 

|.8 


♦ Auckland . . . 




1 


* Bourbon 


Dutch 




3 




1 


* Chatham . . . 


American 






8 




* Sandwich Islands . 


British 


5 




60 




* Kerguelen . . 


>» 


2 


2 






* Kerguelen . 


German 


I 


E 






* Kerguelen . . 


American 






26 




♦ Mauritius . 


German 




2 




1 


* Mauritius. . . 

* Mauritius 


Lord Lind- 
say's Exp. 
British 


1 


3 

1 


100 


1 


• New Caledonia. . 


French 


1 




100 




* Bodriguez 


British 


3 


3 






♦ St. Paul . 


French 


I 


E 


600 




Japan 












♦ Kobe . 


» 


I 


E 


P 




♦ Nagasaki . . . 


American 


I 


E 


60 




♦ Nagasaki . 


French 


I 


E 


P 




* Yokohama . . 


Russian 


I 


E 






♦ Yokohama . 


Mexican 


2 


2 


100 




New Zealand 












♦ Bluff Harbour . . 


German 


I 




P 




* Christchurch. 


British 






9 




* Queenstown . . 


American 


I 




69 




Persia 












* Ispahan 


German 






19 




♦ Teheran . . . 


Russian 


I 


E 


P 




Russia and China 












Habarowka . 


» 


I 








Jalta . . . 


M 




E 






♦ Kiachta 


» 


I 


E 


8 




• Neri:schinsk . . 


> 


I 


E 




1 


Orianda 


M 




E 







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XXXll 



Introduction. 



station. 


NationaUty. 


So 


wo 




ill 


Russia and China — cont. 
* Port Passuet . . 


Russian 




B 


38 




♦ PeVin . 


American 




E 


90 




♦ Pekin . . . 


French 




E 


60 




♦ Cheef 00 


Gennan 




E 


P 


1 


* Tschita . . . 


Russian 




E 




1 


♦ Wladiwostok. 


)) 




E 






♦ Wladiwostok . . 


American 


I 


E 


13 




Tasmania 












♦ Campbell Town . 


American 




E 


55 




♦ HobartTown . . 


» 






39 





In all cases where I am not sure how many observa- 
tions were obtained, I have substituted the letters I and 
E to represent an unknown number of observers of 
Ingress or Egress respectively. Also, where the num- 
ber of Photographs obtained is unknown, I have sub- 
stituted the letter P. 

With regard to the photographs, I have simply 
stated the number of pictures reported as obtained. It 
is only when these have been tested under the micro- 
scope that it is possible to say how many of them 
will really be useful for measurement — probably not 
more than one-tenth of the number will prove to 
be so. 

At all the stations marked with an asterisk, some at 
least of the observers were men with previous training, 



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Introduction. xxxiii 



provided with thoroughly good instruments ; indeed it 
is very questionable if any observations made without 
these conditions should be admitted into the final 
discussion. 

Now what are the results of all these observations ? 
It is as yet impossible to say with anything like cer- 
tainty, but, from partial discussions which have been 
published, we may draw some conclusions. 

The photographic observations have resulted in 
failure, at least so far as the British* stations are 
concerned. The pictures have not the sharpness 
necessary for the delicate measurement to which they 
must be subjected, and they appeat besides to be 
affected by systematic errors inherent to the method 
employed. 

In criticising this result, it must not be forgotten 
that the method is experimental ; that its first appli- 
cation to the measurement of small angles (requiring 
an accuracy of -j^ or y^ of a second of arc) was on 
the occasion of the Transit of Venus, and that no sa- 
tisfactory means existed of putting the method to 
previous proof. 

With the experience of last Transit, however, I 
think it is not impossible that photography may 
be successfully employed to observe the Transit of 
1882. 



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xxxiv Introduction. 



The Heliometer observations are not as yet published 
in a form from which any accurate estimate of their 
value can be formed. 

The eye observations of contact present the same 
difficulties as in former Transits. 

The contact is not a sharply-marked phenomenon, 
but a gradual merging of two limbs. It is complicated 
by the effects of the atmosphere of Venus, by the 
irradiation of the Sun's limb, and by the undulations 
of our own atmosphere. These effects also vary with 
the description of telescope and accessories employed ; 
with the depth and colour of sun-shade; with the 
aperture of the telescope and its magnifying power; 
and, lastly, with the imagination of the observer, with 
his previous impression as to what he ought to see, 
or hopes to see, and with the language in which he 
describes what he believes he has seen. 

Picture for a moment the circumstances under which 
the observations are taken. The observer has made a 
long, it may be a perilous journey, and has perhaps en- 
countered much difficulty in landing and erecting his 
instruments and Observatory. The weather for days 
before the 9th of December has been unpropitious, and 
the observer is worn out by long and anxious watching. 
But when the eventful morning arrives, the sky is 
cloudless, and the Sun shines in all his strength. The 



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Introduction. xxxv 



astronomer is exultant, and the revulsion of feeling sets 
his every nerve a-tingling. 

Soon after the predicted time, he sees a small black 
indentation in the Sun's limb. The indentation in- 
creases. The black disc of the Planet has half entered 
upon the Sun — ^when, what is this ? Around a portion 
of the black disc appears a band of light, that extends 
till it forms a ring round the Planet. Three minutes 
more and the critical instant will be past ; and yet the 
mystery of the unexpected ring remains unsolved. 
Meanwhile the definition becomes less and less satis- 
factory, for the strong Sun has heated up the rocks 
which surround the Observatory, and tremulous currents 
of air ascend which render the image blurred and ill- 
defined. About this time, according to the observer's 
previous experience with " the model," fine sharp cusps 
should be rapidly approaching each other, and, when 
they meet, light should appear between the edge of the 
Planet and the Sun. But no ! the cusps are not fine ; 
they are blunted and rounded off; and this bright ring 
of light complicates the matter. 

A few seconds more, and all will be over. Even yet 
the observer does not know what he ought to note. 
He feels that now is the supreme moment, that naro 
he must reap the fruit of all his labour, or lose his 
harvest. 



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xxxvi Introduction. 



Still there is nothiDg precise to observe. So, in the 
tremulous image before him, he notes what best he 
can, — and then the Transit is over.* 

After the first feeling of disappointment, comes a 
certain feeling of satisfaction. The important contact 
has been observed. The circumstances were favourable. 
All has been done that could have been done. Thus 
the report unconsciously partakes of a more buoyant 
character than would have been the case could the 
observer precisely recall his feelings at the instant of 
observation : or than if he knew that to-morrow, and 



* I do not think I have exaggerated the difficnlty and uncertainty 
of the observation in the slightest degree, and I quote in corrobora- 
tion the words of a most conscientious observer : — 

** Sky perfectly clear ; no cloud. 

**0n focussing, after changing the micrometer, to my astonishment 
I saw a completion of light round the planet, perfectly distinct, and 
such as I should have stiid, from previous model-practice, was imme- 
diately after contact. This is the time recorded. I remained looking 
at it for about two minutes, but could see no instantaneous phenomenon 
of contact, no black droj), nor anything resembling the model. I 
noticed that this light did not appear to thicken as I should have 
expected for a considerable time after that recorded, but as I con- 
sidered, from my previous experience [with the model], that the con- 
tact had occurred, and was unable to get, accurately, any further 
change until the planet was visibly on the Sun, I cannot say that the 
time as noted is at all satisfactory." 

Had all observers been equally hard to please as to the precision 
of the phenomenon, the result of the Transit would have been — no 
observations. But these words will undoubtedly recall to many an 
observer the unsatisfactory character of the phenomenon which he had 
to note. 



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Introduction. xxxvii 



the next day, and the next, he could repeat his obser- 
vation again and again. 

Is it then a wonder that any person who attempts to 
select " corresponding phases " of the Transit, from the 
uncertain and incongruous records of the various ob- 
servers, should vacillate in his opinion as to the true 
interpretation of their language ? Is it a wonder that 
anyone who has previously formed a strong opinion as 
to what the result should be, and who has made 
himself familiar with the effects of different interpre- 
tations on the final figures, should unconsciously give 
such interpretation as will lead to a result agreeing 
with his preconceived ideas ? 

I do not think that it is ; the wonder would rather 
be if it were otherwise. 

Accordingly we find that various results have already 
appeared. The first of these was obtained by M. 
Puiseux from the French observations at Pekin and 
St. Paul : it gave 

92^ millions of miles 

for the Sun's distance, and so far confirmed Newcomb's 
and Leverrier's conclusions. The next combination, 
however, gave a very different result — more nearly 
Encke's distance. So the French, like the Germans, 
very wisely resolved to publish only the observations 
made, without drawing any conclusions from them, 



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xxxviii Introduction, 



leaving the definitive result to be deduced from the com- 
bined observations of astronomers of all nations, accord- 
ing to the recommendation of our Astronomer Royal. 

Tins was indeed a wise recommendation, for partial 
discussions can tend only to hinder true progress. 

The British public, however, as is their manner, 
npset this wise resolution, and Parliament demanded 
immediate value for its money. " What is the result?" 
was the impatient cry of honourable members, doubt- 
less waiting with restless anxiety for information as to 
the Solar Parallax. And so the Astronomer Royal 
had to prepare a Blue Book, and give the result of the 
British expeditions alone. The result contained in 
this report was 

93^ millions of miles 

for the Sun's distance. 

Then Mr. Stone (H.M. Astronomer at the Cape) 
rediscussed the same observations, and deduced 

91i% millions of miles 

or a result differing by more than one and a half 
millions of miles from the Astronomer Royal's result. 

Subsequently, introducing a wider range of observa- 
tions, the Astronomer Royal announced in his Report 
to the Board of Visitors, that the observations seemed 
now to point to about 

92/g millions of miles. 



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Introduction. xxxix 



Finally Captain Tupman, the chief of the British 
Expeditions, from a still more extended discussion 
deduced 

92/g millions of miles, 

a result agreeing precisely with that of Newcomb and 
Leverrier. 

With admirable candour and fairness, however, he 
states 

" Although the above results " (referring to the 
results from Ingress and Egress taken separately), 
"present such an unexpected agreement, it cannot be 
said that the mean " (equivalent to a Sun's distance of 

92^ millions of miles) 

** is entitled to much confidence." 

" Any selection of times made after the investigation • 
of the effects of parallax^ will always expose the result 
to the suspicion of having been ' doctored.' " 

In these opinions I heartily concur. 

Of course, no determination of the Sun's distance is 
likely to be correct which is irreconcileable with a 
reasonable interpretation of a well-observed Transit 
of Venus — like that of 1874 ; and therefore, as a con- 
^rmMion of other remits^ the eye observations of contact 
may prove usefiil. But of this I am convinced, that 



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xl hitroduction. 



no eye observations of a Transit of Venus can ever 
satisfactorily determine the Sun's distance ; though it is 
not impossible that photography, properly employed, 
may accomplish the desired end. 

One very useful lesson taught by this discussion of 
the Transit of 1874 is, that the apparent agreement of 
the observations, in Mr. Stone's discussion of the 1769 
Transit, is entirely illusory. In the Transit of 1874, the 
probable error of an observation of contact amounted, 
at least, to 7 or 8 seconds of time. These observations 
were made with the best modern appliances, very, very 
far superior to any of those used in 1769. From what 
we know of the instruments, and the nature of the ob- 
servation, the real probable error of contact in 1769 
must have been at least 10 seconds (instead of one and 
a half), and the resulting distance of the Sun may be 
anything from 90 J to 95 millions of miles. 

But between the observation and discussion of the 
Transit of Venus of 1874, results of other interesting 
investigations were published. 

In 1872 Dr. Galle of Breslau had proposed a series 
of observations on the minor Planet Flora^ at its Oppo- 
sition in the autumn of 1873, for the purpose of de- 
termining the Sun's distance. He contended, that, 
though this Planet would not approach so near to the 
Earth as Mars and Venus do in certain circumstances. 



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Introduction. xli 



yet its minute disc, exactly like a Star, would form a 
better object for exact measurement, and one less 
liable to systematic error of bisection. He secured the 
co-operation of Observatories in the Northern and 
Southern Hemispheres, and, by combining the obser- 
vations so obtained, he derived 

92i millions of miles 

for the Sun's distance. 

This result was also confirmatory of the Newcomb- 
Leverrier value, and the method offered great proba- 
bility of freedom from systematic error. But at some 
of the most important Observatories the instrumental 
equipment was not satisfactory for so delicate an in- 
quiry ; and the result therefore hardly possesses the 
importance which it would otherwise have. 

Meanwhile the French Academy had adopted the 
suggestions of Leverrier, and M. Cornu was selected 
to redetermine the Velocity of Light. The investiga- 
tion was executed with eminent skill and care, and the 
result, combined with Bradley's determination of the 
constant of aberration, gave 92t%^ millions of miles for 
the Sun's distance, a result also in agreement with 
that of Newcomb and Leverrier ; but when combined 
with the far more refined and more generally accepted 
determination of Struve, the result is 

93 millions of miles 



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xlii Introduction. 



Such was the state of our knowledge of the Sun's 
distance in the beginning of 1877. 

Opinions were divided. Few, if any, still adhered 
to the old value of Encke (95^^ millions of miles), but 
some firmly maintained the accuracy of the other 
extreme (Olj-V millions of miles). 

The vast majority of Astronomers adopted the 
Newcomb-Leverrier value (92-pV millions of miles), but 
very few believed the constant to be yet definitively 
established. It was still possible that these two 
coincident results might each be subject to a small 
systematic error; a.nd some investigation, to which 
systematic error could not possibly be attributed, 
was earnestly desired. 

In 1857 the Astronomer Royal had proposed the 
mode of observation described in Chap. L p. 9, and gave 
it as his opinion that it was the best of all methods to 
determine the Sun's distance. 

This proposal had never been satisfactorily carried 
out, and yet it offered many advantages. It required 
no co-operation, and the whole of the observations 
might be made by the same observer with the same 
instrument, so that systematic errors would be entirely 

avoided. 

Combining the suggestions of the Astronomer Royal 
and of Dr. Galle, Lord Lindsay and I proposed in 



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Introduction. xliii 



1874 the observation of a Minor Planet in the evening 
and early morning, as the best method of determining 
the parallax ; and we showed that, by employing the 
Heliometer in the observations, there was a probability 
of realizing a higher accuracy than had ever before 
been attained. The practical form which the proposal 
took, was to observe the Planet Juno on the occasion 
of Lord Lindsay's Expedition to Mauritius ; and this 
was duly done. On account of the late arrival of Lord 
Lindsay's yacht at Mauritius, only a very small propor- 
tion of the intended observations were secured; but 
these, on reduction, proved to demonstration the ex- 
treme accuracy of the method. Though the observa- 
tions are not numerous enough to give a determination 
of the Sun's distance of the highest precision, it is still 
interesting to find that the tendency of the result was to 
confirm the Cornu-Struve result derived from the Velo- 
city of Light and the Constant of Aberration* 

From all the observations of Juno combined, the 
result was 

93^ millions of miles, 

or rejecting one outstanding result 

92^ millions of miles. 

The Opposition of Mars in 1877 offered, so far as 
geometrical conditions are concerned, the most favour- 



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xliv Introduction^ 



able opportunity of the century to determine the pa- 
rallax, by observations at a single station. 

I thought it would be a matter of the greatest regret 
if such an opportunity were lost Having mentioned 
the matter to Lord Lindsay, he, in the kindest 
manner and in fullest sympathy with the importance 
of the object, at once placed his Heliometer at my 
disposal. 

I had already much experience in the use of this 
instrument, and had spent many months in finding 
out its errors and the best means of correcting them. 
This great labour therefore would not have to be 
repeated. 

The combination of circumstances was altogether 
so fortunate, that the Royal Astronomical Society, on 
the earnest recommendation of the Astronomer Royal, 
guaranteed the £500 which I considered necessary for 
the expenses of the expedition. Through the good 
offices of the Astronomer Royal, I also received such 
letters from the Lords, of the Admiralty, and such 
efficient assistance was in consequence given to me at 
Ascension, that the money voted by the Society proved 
more than sufficient. Numerous.evening and morning 
observations of Mars were secured ; and the reductions, 
now far advanced, promise a result of very great 
accuracy. 



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Introduction. xlv 



I may state here that the observations of one week 
(Sept. 4 — 11), which are now reduced, confirm the 
tendency of the Juno result and of the Cornu-Struve 
value of the Sun's distance ; but a good many months 
must still elapse before the final result, from all the 
observations, can be deduced. 

Another Astronomer, Mr. Maxwell Hall, of Jamaica, 
observed Mars exactly on the plan of the Astronomer 
Royal. The details of his observations are not yet 
published, but the result he arrived at also confirms the 
tendency of the Cornu-Struve, Juno, and Mars results. 

Without entering into greater detail, I may state 
that, if these recent results are confirmed, the Sun's 
distance will prove to be nearer to 93 than to 92 
millions of miles. 

It may appear strange to the uninitiated that As- 
tronomers should be in doubt about so large a quantity 
as a million of miles, but perhaps a familiar illustra- 
tion will convey some idea of the difficulty of the 
problem. 

The apparent size of the Earth, looked at from the 
Sun, is about that of a globe 5J inches in diameter 
viewed at a mile distant. 

K this 5 J inch globe is shifted 57 feet nearer to the 
observer, it will be increased in apparent diameter just 
as much as the Earth would be if shifted a million of 



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xlvi Introduction. 



miles nearer to the Sun — or, as if the 5 J inch globe 
had not been shifted, but had been increased by tw of 
an inch in diameter. Hence, in measuring the pa- 
rallax, an angular error, corresponding with -^ of an 
inch viewed at a mile distance, will produce the error 
in question. 

If any one desires to form an adequate idea of the 
difficulties of measuring the Sun's distance to a million 
of miles, let him try to measure the thichness ofajlorin- 
pieccj looked aty edge on^ a mile off. 

I have endeavoured in the preceding sketch to out- 
line the History of the great Problem which occupied 
our time and thoughts at Ascension. I shall be well 
satisfied if I have enabled any one to realize some- 
what of its nobility and interest, and the consequent 
intensity of our anxiety for a successful result. 

DAVID GILL. 

London: November^ 1878. 



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CONTENTS. 



PAGE 

INTRODUCTION v 



CHAPTER I. 



WHY WE WENT. 



The Professor's story. — The noblest problem in Astronomy. — 
Kepler's law of the Distances. — Sun's Distance the standard 
of celestial measure. — How celestial distances are measured. 
— Mathematics and knitting-needles. — The Transit of Venus. 
— ^The Opposition of Mars. — Lieut. Gilles's disappointment. 
— The Astronomer Royal's plan. — My husband's proposal. — 
Ascension fixed upon. — A grant from the Astronomical 
Society. — Lord Lindsay's Heliometer. — The Heliometer at 
Burlington House. — Accident to the Heliometer. — Ready to 
start - . . 1 

CHAPTER II. 

THE VOYAGE. 

Dartmouth. — Dartmouth shopkeepers. — Dr. Davidson's "Per- 
fect Remedy for Sea-sickness." — Madeira. — Diving boys 
at Funchal. — Lordly colonists. — Teneriffe. — "What the 
stewardess thought of the Peak. — Our feUow-passengers. — 
South African Mission "Work. — Eaves-dropping. — Arrival at 
St. Helena. — The Ladder. — Landing. — "Derelicts." — John- 
son's Observatory. — Its present uses. — The St. Helena 
Astronomer. — St. Helena skies. — Tempted to stay . . li 



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xlviii Contents. 



CHAPTER III. 

ST. HELENA. 

PAGE 

Fresh scenes. — "The Briars." — St. Helena vegetation. — Sandy 
Bay. — Diana's Peak. — A nervous ride. — Lot and Lot's 
wife. — Neglected cinchona. — Tom Timm. — Halley's Obser- 
vatory. — Napoleon's tomb. — ** Yam stalks." — Longwood. — 
Relic hunting. — Longwood Farm. — St. Helena farming. — 
The Friar Rock. — The Mountain Maid and the Friar. — West 
Lodge. — Hard times in St. Helena. — Plantation House. — 
Oakbank. — Fate of the **Derelicts." — St. Helena friends. — 
Good-bye 28 



CHAPTER IV. 

WHAT ASCENSION LOOKED LIKE. 

Clarence Bay. — The "Abomination of Desolation." — Is that 
Ascension?— Rollers. — Can we land ? — An uninviting dingey. 
— A slippery footing on Ascension. — A kindly welcome. — 
**The Thing." — The beauty of perfect ugliness. — The Cap- 
tain's Cottage. — Between hammer and anvil. — Commodore's 
Cottage. — A bare larder. — Shopping in Ascension. — Threat- 
ened starvation. — A novel Croquet lawn. — Site for the Ob- 
servatory. — Glorious skies 45 



CHAPTER V. 

ASCENSION PAST AND PRESENT. 

Ascension discovered. — Its volcanic origin. — Its shape and size. 
—"True as the needle to the Pole. ''—Embedded turtle. — 
A French opinion of Turtle-soup. — The Sailor's Post-oflSce. 
— Visit of Abbd La Caille. — British occupation of Ascension. 
— Why we keep it. — Its peculiar government. — The Gover- 
nor's troubles. — A decision worthy of Solomon. — The popu- 
lation in 1877.— Ascension the Flora Tender. — Sea life 
ashore. — Ascension, mutton. — A gallon of water a day. — 
Novel domestic economy 57 



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Contents. xlix 



CHAPTER VI. 

ROUND ABOUT GARRISON. 

PAOK 

Erecting the Observatory.— A busy day. — The Turtle-ponds.— 
Doomed Turtles.— Captain Brandreth's story. — Turtle-nests. 
— Turtle- turning. — Happy Turtles ! — St. Mary's Church. — 
The Chaplain's protest. — Change of weather. — Green Moun- 
tain clouds. — Our troubles begin 69 

CHAPTER VII. 

A NIGHT ON THE CLINKER. 

AVeary weeks. — What is to be done ? — Can we get beyond the 
clouds. — I determine to explore. — A typical night. — ^Walk- 
ing over "clinker." — Jimmy Ducks. — Light through the 
cloud. —Midnight . on the clinker. — Chasing a' Cloud by 
moonlight. — My clinker cairn. — Return to Ganison. — The 
decision. — Reconnoitring. — A hopeful spot. — ^Two **ifs." — 
Preparations for tent-life, — The first Parallax Determination. 
— ** The man that hesitates is lost" 82 

CHAPTER VIII. 

CHANGE AND CHECK. 

Booted Up. — A strange procession. — ** Sister Anne ! Sister Anne ! 
do you see anybody coming ?" — Good news. — Mars Bay. — 
The Heliometer and the Kroomen. — "All's well that ends 
well" — ^A solitary Palm. — My first sight of Mars Bay. — 
Clinker flooring. — Roller fever. — ^At work again. — Sam and 
Fetish. — My second coming'to Mars Bay . . , .94 

CHAPTER IX. 



A glooiny Home-coming. — A wet Sunday. — Our tents. — "Sam 
again." — Mail-day. — Setting the House in order. — "Hard- 
backs." — Watchful Nights and Weary Days. — Sam versm 
Graydon. — Scarcity of Water. — Good Samaritans. ^An 
Eclipse of the Moon. — Our Cooking- tent by Night. — Guests 

at Mars Bay . .105 

d 



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Contents. 



CHAPTER X. 

A SUNDAY SCENE. 

PAGE 

Disturbance in the Galley. — Reading the Riot Act, — A Fight.— 
Contrition. — Change in the Galley. — Sam the Second. — A 
revelation. — The Government of King Rum. — A practical 
joke.— By the sea.— The ** 0<mi^.9."— No Turtle Boat . . 119 ' 



CHAPTER XL 

THE OPPOSITION OF MAES. 

Suspense. — Evening success. — A little cloud. — Splendid De- 
finition. — Sweet sounds. —A favourable Opposition. — The 
Mail lost «,.......« 129 



CHAPTER XII. 

THE SEA-SHORE AND THE EOLLLRS. 

Blood-stained Travellers. — A terrible highway. — South Point. — 
An unexpected path.— A Lava Forest. —An adventure with 
an Octopus. — A family party. — ** The Twa Dogs." — Gannet 
Bay. — The coming of the Wide-awakes. — A good determina- 
tion of the Sun's Distance. — The Rollers, what are they ? — 
Captain Evans' theory. — Disappearance of the Rollers. — 
Centipedes in the cheese.— Off for a holiday . . .136 



CHAPTER XIII. 

GEEEN MOUNTAIN. 

dreary way. — Water- tanks. — A conscientious pony. — Clim1)- 
ing the Ramps. — A delightful contrast— Gi-ass. — Garden 
Cottage. — ^A welcome fire. — Break-neck Valley. — ^A Dew 
Pond. — The Peak.— Looking down upon our Neighbours. — A 
Krooman's idea of a holiday. — Ascension Flora. — •* Sherry 
and bitters." — ** Sicitur ad aslra'* ^ . . • « 153 



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CHAPTER XIV* 

SUNDAY AT THK MOUNTAIN. 



PAGE 



View from Garden Cottage. — "Und unter den FUssen eia 
nebliges Meer."--The Dairy. — Church at the Mountain. — 
Kest. — The Weather Gardens. — Stars vrrsiw Cabbages . • 169 



CHAPTER XV. 

WHY WE HAD ONLY A GALLON OF WATER. 

The Brandreth "Wells. — ^Failure of the Spring. — Mr. Cross's 
happy discovery. — A fickle spring. — How the water is col- 
lected. — Dam pier's— Mulberry Drip. —Duck Pond Drip. — 
White Wall Drip.— Middleton Drip . * . . ^ 176 



CHAPTER XVI. 

TRIPS FROM GARDEN COTTAGE. 

In search of Silver Ore Run. — The "Wrong Road. — Empty water- 
courses. — Jimmy Chivas. — The Mountain Hospital. — The 
Mountain Cemetery. — ^The ** Ingle Neuk." — Excursion to 
Weather Post. — Cricket Valley. — A gorse bush. — Caught in 
the fog. — Boatswain Bird Island. — ^Ascension game. — ^A 
novel drinking cup.— The end of the holiday. — The wizard- 
wanded mist. — Mars Bay and work again . » . .182 



CHAPTER XVII. 

MARS RAY WITHOUT A COOK. 

Triangulation of Mars stars. — Our piteous case. — A new Galley 
slave. — Cooking under difficulties.— Sam's method. — A 
Marine to the rescue.— ^ani and his child-book.— My 
pupil. — Daily work. — H.M.S. Boxer.- Sea-sick guests. — ^A 
boat upset. — Surf navigation ....,, 19? 



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Ill Contents. 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

WIDE-AWAKE FAIR. 

PAGE 

Garrison festivities. — '* Wide-awake ! Wide-awake ! " — Sfenwi 
fvliginosa. — Ascension theories about "Wide-awakes." — 
"The Fair."— Egg-gathering. — ^A gallant defence. — Large 
consumers. — ^The lime-bumei-'s failing appetite. — Ipomaea 
inarUima. — A crusty cook. — His tender feelings. -^ * * Polly's' ' 
departure. — Marines and Blue-jackets.. — A sensitive ci-eature 206 

CHAPTER XIX. 

LAST DAYS AT MAES BAY. 

Passing ships. — H.M. S. ^caco?^.— Graydon home-sick. — "Rover" 
bequeathed. — A new assistant. — " Melpomene." — Bad 
weather. — Disappointment. — Delightful orders.— Scarcity of 
lucifer matches.— Attempts in Taxidermy. — Our feathered 
friends.— /S'fenia leiccocajnlla, — Packing. — The Ways of The 
Service, — My ignorance. — ^The work is done. — Pulling do\\Ti 
our altars 216 

CHAPTER XX. 

CHRISTMAS IN GARRISON. 

Five precious Books. — Christmas without Holly. — Boast Beef and 
Plum Pudding. — A Musical Entertainment. — The Tom-tom. 
— ^A motley crew. — The Master of Ceremonies. — No cook 
and no dinner. — Eggs and bacon.— The Captain's Office. — 
Exit Tom 228 

CHAPTER XXI. 

ABOUT THE KROOMEN. 

A visit from Sam the First. — The Big Brother.— A bad bargain. 
— Favourite investments. — " Chop-Dollar." — A remarkable 
toilet. — Kroomen's physique— Kroomen's moral nature. — 



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Contents. lili 



PAOB 



Fetisli.— Kingsley on Fetish,— " Gi-e-gre." — " Fetish no can 
touch white man." — A demand for over-exposed photographs. 
— A theft. — "Fetish will have you." — Retribution. — Sam's 
aspirations. — My regrets. — " Is it too late ? '* . . • 234 



CHAPTER XXIL 

CLINKER CEMETEKIES. 

**In boxes." — Waiting for the Mail. — Dead Man's BeacL— 
Garrison Cemetery. — ^The music of the waves.— A coral 
strand.— -"The Blow-hole."— The Rollers again.— The 
Heliometer in danger. — Its fortunate escape. — Volcanic 
scenery.— Comfortless Cove. — Lonely graves. — ^A vision of 
the past 243 

CHAPTER XXIII. 

CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS. 

A hot New Year's Day.— A rifle match. — Rueful knights. — Bravo 
the Asceimonf — A domestic excitement. — **Too many cooks 
spoil the broth." — Fish waiting for Soup.— The party behind 
the chairs. — In quest of Tartle. — A lovely night. — No 
success. — ^Another attempt.— South-west Bay. — Poor Pussy. 
—Lost on the clinker. — Tired and turtleless.— Boatswain 
Bird Island.— Among the birds. — A noisy reception. — A 
painful greeting.— Collecting specimens. — ^A cloud of birds. 
— No guano 252 

CHAPTER XXIV. 

THE devil's riding SCHOOL. 

Our last Excursion. — An early start. — In doubt about the way. — 
Horse Shoe Crater. — Rover in trouble. — The Devil's Riding 
School — ^Fairy Rings. — What has once been here? — ^The 
Riding School no crater. — Saucepan lids. — A stone umbrella. 
— Broken bottles.— Last Observations. - i^mia coronal opus, 
—Mail in sight.— Farewells 266 



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liv Contents. 



CHAPTER XXV. 

HOMEWARD BOUND* 

PAGE 

Cheerful neighbours. — Sunday at sea. — Sitting on deck. — Tene- 
riffe again. — Cooler latitudes. — Rousing the inhabitants. — 
Funchal by moonlight. — An unexpected meeting. — Ameri- 
can Astronomers. — Victims of cwrio vendors. — The Bay of 
Biscay. — A gale in Channel.— Home 278 



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TO BINDER. 
Map of the Island of Ascension to fate Title, 



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SIX MONTHS IN ASCENSION. 



CHAPTER I. 

WHY WE WENT. 



The Professor's story. — The noblest problem in Astronomy. — Kepler's 
law of the Distances.— Sun's Distance the standard of celestial 
measure. — How celestial distances are measured. — Mathematics 
and knitting-needles. — The Transit of Venus. — The Opposition of 
Mars. — Lieut. Gilles's disappointment. — The Astronomer Royal's 
plan. — My husband's proposal. — Ascension fixed upon. — A ^"ant 
from the Astronomical Society. — Lord Lindsay's Heliometer. — The 
Heliometer at Burlington House. —Accident to the Heliometer. — 
Ready to start. 

I REMEMBER a story once told me by a learned 
friend. He had been explaining to a lady, with much 
care and minuteness, the reasons why the axis of the 
earth is slowly though constantly changing its direc- 
tion in the heavens, and why, therefore, the star, 
which is the Pole star now, was not the Pole star 4000 
years ago. 

The lady had encouraged our friend to proceed with 
his explanation by the most marked attention, and by 
such appreciative interjections as '' Really ! " ** Indeed ! " 



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'• * •;: :*: c*-;: • • Si^ Months in Ascension. ch. i. 
^- *-* :> ft; /'•. -.,' 

" How beautiful ! " In this way he was led to more 
than usually minute description, and with much unc- 
tion proceeded to crown his argument as follows. 

" Now you see, by this change of the direction of 
the earth's axis, if we have any permanent record of 
an observation of the angular distance of a star from 
the Pole, we can calculate how long ago that record 
was made." ** Of course!" "And in the Great 
Pyramid we have such a record." " Indeed ! how 
wonderful ! " " The entrance passage points to the 
north, and its angle of inclination corresponds with 
the lower culmination of the Pole star of 4000 years 
ago. 

Here a little h^nd was laid on our friend's arm, and 
his feelings may be better imagined than described, 
when, in an anxious voice, the question was put, 
" And pray. Professor, wliai is an angle ? " 

Now, I too have a story to tell in which angles 
occur, and, warned by the Professor's experience, I 
would leave them out if I could. This, however, I 
cannot do altogether, lest some should thus miss the 
point of the story; but, as next best, I shall throw 
them all into the first chapter; and those of my 
sisters who care for none of these things, or who, like 
the Professor s fair friend, know not the meaning of an 
angle, may pass it over and read about our ** Six 
Months in Ascension," without the reasons that took 
us there. 

It was no longing for new scenes, no thirst after 
gold, no need for better health that led us to bid 



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CH. I. SufCs Distance. 



good-bye to England in the leafy month of June, and 
seek a barren rock at the Equator. It was none of 
these things. We went in search of the Solar Paral- 
lax, or in other words to find out how far ofif the sun 
is from the earth. 

Many a noble head has puzzled over this problem, 
and many a sage thought and many an hour of careful 
observation did the grand old philosophers give to its 
solution. Our own Astronomer Koyal, in a paper read 
in 1857, says : " The measure of the sun's distance has 
always been considered the noblest problem in astro- 
nomy." The general interest taken in the last Transit 
of Venus, and the large sums expended by different 
nations in providing for its observation (amounting in 
the aggregate to about a quarter of a million sterling) 
show that the solution of the question still maintains 
its importance, not only as the settlement of an ab- 
stract truth, but as an essential condition to the future 
progress of astronomy ; and I think I can show why 
this is so. 

The astronomer knows, and has known for ages, 
the proportional distances of all the bodies of our 
solar system ; he knows too, as a mathematical fact, 
that there is an exact relation between the time which 
a planet takes to make a complete revolution round 
the sun and the distance of that planet from the sun. 
Now it is easy to find the time which a planet takes to 
go round the sun, and the knowledge of the old astro- 
nomers in this respect was nearly as accurate as that 
of our own day. 

B 2 



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4 Six Months in Ascension. ch. i. 

When Kepler discovered his famous law of the dis- 
tances,* he was in a position to draw nearly as accurate 
a chart of the sun and the paths of the heavenly 
bodies as we could draw at the present time. What 
he could not do was to give the scale of his chart. 
He could say at any time, " If you can tell me what 
is the distance between any two planets I can tell 
you the distances of all the others, because I know 
exactly the relative proportions of all these dis- 
tances." 

He was, in fact, in the position of a man who has a 
map of England placed before him and is requested to 
tell from it the distance from London to York. If the 
map has no scale attached to it he cannot do so : but if 
he is told that one inch on the map is equivalent to ten 
nules, he has only to measure the number of inches 
between London and York on the map and to 
multiply the result by ten, to find the distance in 
miles. 

Or again, if he happens to know any other distance 
on the map, such as the distance from London to 
Oxford, he has only to find how many times this dis- 
tance is contained in the distance from London to 
York by the map, and thus he solves the question. 

Accordingly, the astronomer requires only to know 
one distance in our solar system in order to know all; 
and for this purpose he selects as his unit of measure 
the mean or average distance of the earth from the 

* The squares of the times of the revolutions of the planets are pro- 
portional to the cubes of their mean distances from the sun. 



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cH. I. Measurement of Celestial Distances. 5 

sun. Thus we do not order 9000 millimetres of 
silk for a dress, nor astonish the draper by demanding 
TTB- of a mile ; but prefer to ask for 10 yards of 
silk. So the astronomer, instead of saying that the 
average distance of Jupiter from the sun is 478 
millions of miles, prefers to say its distance is 63-, 
meaning that it is h\ times the distance of the earth 
from the sun. 

The determination, then, of the length of the astro- 
nomer's unit, is of the same importance to him, as is 
the true length of the yard measure in the ordinary 
business of life, or in the more scientific work of the 
surveyor or engineer. In order to accomplish this 
determination, he has, as I have shown, only to find 
the distance of any one planet firom another; and 
now I must explain how this is done. 

Many will remember the great meteor-shower of 
1866. On that occasion, one very remarkable meteor 
was seen by an observer in Aberdeen to burst in the 
South, apparently near a well-known star in the con- 
stellation of the Bull, while to another observer in 
Newcastle the same meteor appeared to b«arst in the 
North, near another well-known star in the Great 
Bear. The time of bursting, and the angular dis- 
tances of the stars (fi'om the Pole and from the 
meridian) being known, it was easy for the astronomer 
to calculate the apparent altitude and direction of 
these stars as seen from Aberdeen and Newcastle 
respectively. 

But without the employment of mathematical terms, 



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6 Six Months in Ascension. ch. i. 

it is difficult to explain how he works ; and with them, 
it would be hopeless for me to attempt the explana- 
tion. I myseK do not imderstand mathematical terms, 
so how could I use them with the hope of explaining 
these things to my readers? However, I can use 
knitting-needles, and perhaps they may do just as 
well. 

Let us suppose that the astronomer takes a map of 
England and places one end of a knitting-needle on 
the town of Aberdeen, then turning the other end of 
the needle in the proper direction he raises it to the 
required altitude for the star in the Bull. Similarly, 
he takes another needle, places one end on Newcastle, 
turns the other end in the direction of the star in the 
Great Bear, raises it to the required altitude, and 
where the needles cross each other, there must be the 
place of the meteor. In the case in question it 
was found to be 40 miles vertically over the town of 
Dundee. 

Of course the astronomer uses no such clumsy 
contrivances as knitting-needles. He finds the lines 
of the mathematician more convenient, but the prin- 
ciple is the same. To measure the distance of any 
celestial body jfrom the earth, it is only necessary to 
observe it jfrom two different points. In the case 
however of measuring the great distance of a planet, 
the problem becomes very difficult. For even when 
the planet is looked at jfrom opposite sides of the 
earth, the lines (or needles) must go so far before they 
meet, that the angle at the apex is almost insensibly 



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OH. I. 



Transit of Venus. 



small, and yet on the measurement of this minute 
angle (called the parallax*) does the whole problem 
depend. 

The Transit of Venus had been supposed to afford 
the most accurate means of measuring a planet's dis- 
tance ; because at a Transit of Venus the planet is only 
at about one-fourth of the sun's distance from the earth, 
and passes across the sun between it and the earth. 
At that time, when the edge of the planet seems to an 
observer on one side of the earth to touch the edge of 
the sun, to an observer on the opposite side of the 
earth this does not appear to be the case, because of 
the apparent change in the planet's position, produced 
by its being viewed from diflferent points. 

In this way, to observers situated at dififerent points 
of the earth, the edge of Venus appears to touch the 
edge of the sun at different times, and from the dif- 
ference of these times astronomers can calculate the 
angular change in the planet's apparent position. 
Then, since they know the size of the earth and the 
latitudes and longitudes of the observers' stations (and 
consequently their distance apart), they are able to 
calculate the distance of Venus in the same way that 
the distance of the meteor was calculated. 

But a somewhat unexpected diflSculty was found in 
the observations of the Transit of Venus. It was dis- 
covered that the planet Venus was surrounded by a 

* Astronomers in practice define the parallax as half this angle— 
that is, the angular amount that the object is displaced from its posi- 
tion as seen from the centre of the earth. 



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8 Six Months in Ascension. ch. i. 

dense atmosphere, so that the sun's edge seen through 
it was hazy and indistinct. The observations con- 
sequently were not made with the precision that was 
necessary ; and it became desirable to find some other 
method of settling the great problem. 

Now, it happened that during August and September 
of 1877, the most favourable Opposition of Mars pos- 
sible in the present century would occur. An '* Opposi- 
tion of Mars " occurs when that planet, the earth and 
the sun, are nearly in a straight line, the earth being 
between the planet and the sun. Hence the planet 
comes to the meridian at midnight. In. the case of 
Mars, this condition of things is realized nearly every 
two years, but at the Opposition of 1877 he would be 
nearer to the earth than at any Opposition during the 
present century, and on the 6th September he would 
be only one-third of the sun's distance from the 
earth. 

Under these circumstances my husband proposed a 
method of observing the planet which he believed to 
possess advantages over all other methods. Instead 
of employing two sets of observers in different parts of 
the earth, as in the Transit of Venus, he determined 
to combine both sets of observers in himself. He 
would thus avoid the disappointment that occurred 
to Lieut. Gilles, who went to Chili in 1850 and 
made laborious observations for the parallax of Mars, 
but found on his return that hardly any correspond- 
ing observations of importance had been made in the 
northern hemisphere. Thus his laboiu' had been 



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CH. I. Grant from Astronomical Society, 9 

expended in vain. The way in which my husband 
managed to avoid the possibility of a like catastrophe 
was as foUows. 

He proposed to observe the planet in the evenirig 
when it was rising — in other words, to look at it 
from position A; then to observe it in the early 
morning when it was setting, that is to 
say, to observe it from position B. He 
availed himself in fact of the rotation 
of the earth to carry both himself and 
his Observatory roimd, and so, by merely 
waiting, to be transported 6,000 or 7,000 
miles between the times of his evening 
and morning observations. 

This part of the proposal was not 
original. It had been suggested long 
ago by the Astronomer Royal, but had 
never been acted on. My husband, however, pro- 
posed for the first time the method of observation 
which he carried out, viz., the emplo}Tnent of the 
Heliometer — the most exact of all angle-measuring 
instruments — and, to secure accuracy in the result, he 
elaborated details which need scarcely be described 
here. 

When his scheme was ripe, he drew it up in complete 
form, and it received from the Royal Astronomical 
Society, from the Astronomer Royal and others, the 
most cordial support. A sum of 600Z. was granted 
from the funds of the Royal Astronomical Society in 
April, 1877, in order that he might carry out an 




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lo Six Months in Ascension. ch. i. 

expedition to the Island of Ascension, to observe the 
Opposition of Mars in the following autumn. 

This expedition, however, no money could have ren- 
dered possible at this date, had not Lord Lindsay, with 
the greatest kindness, agreed to lend for the purpose 
his splendid Heliometer. This is the only instru- 
ment of the kind in England except the much larger 
one in the Eadcliffe Observatory, Oxford, and it was 
not available, 

My husband decided on Ascension as the most 
suitable station for making the desired observations, 
on accoimt of its favourable position with regard to 
latitude, and its reputed meteorological conditions. 
Through the good offices of the Astronomer Royal, 
the consent of the Admiralty was obtained for our 
occupying this station. 

The Transit Instrument was lent by the Royal 
Astronomical Society. Some considerable modifica- 
tions were necessary; but these were duly made. The 
Astronomer Royal lent the Transit Hut ; the Helio- 
meter Observatory, a chronograph, five chronometers, 
two reflecting circles, some barometers and thermo- 
meters, completed our instrumental equipment. The 
whole, in their packing cases, together with our per- 
sonal luggage, made up about 20 tons measurement 
of baggage. 

But before starting, very particular attention was 
required in regard to the Heliometer — the keystone on 
which the whole structure of the work rested. And 
here begins the story of its adventures and mischances. 



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CH. I. Accident to the Heliometer. 1 1 

The instrument had never been used in so low a 
latitude as Ascension, and it was necessary to test it 
carefully, in order to ascertain whether it would per- 
form its functions well under the untried circum- 
stances. 

Considerable interest in the expedition having been 
shown by members of the Boyal Astronomical Society, 
it was thought best to erect the instrument in their 
rooms at Burlington House, where the necessary trials 
could be made, and that the instrument might after- 
wards be exhibited and explained at one of the evening 
meetings. The Heliometer was duly erected, and all had 
been brought nearly into the same condition of affairs 
as would be required at Ascension. David was apply- 
ing a level to an inclined piece of wood cut to the 
angle of the latitude of Ascension, and was directing 
the workmen to give a final motion to the screw by 
which the inclination of the axis is changed, when 
slip ! the screw gave out, the overhanging weight of 
the Heliometer and its coimterpoises tore the lower 
end of the cradle from his hand, and, tilting upwards, 
the polar axis, counterpoise weights and Heliometer- 
tube, in all several cwt., came down crash, from a height 
of 7 or 8 feet, upon the floor. 

Imagine the astronomer's feelings as he saw the 
Heliometer of all his hopes light upon its delicate eye- 
end ; that eye-end driven through the floor and slowly 
torn off, as the whole mass gradually turned round, 
smashing and crushing the more delicate rods, handles 
and other attachments to the tube, and finally squash- 



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1 2 Six Months in Ascension, ch. i, 

ing one of the copper caps which protect the ends of 
the slides from dust. 

As the whole thing lay there on the floor, within ten 
days of the time when it must he packed for shipment, 
it seemed impossible that it could be restored fit for 
use. The apparent ruin of so many hopes and plans 
was paralysing, and for some minutes David was quite 
incapable of examining the amount of damage done. 
By-and-by, however, as he came to look into details, 
matters did not prove to be so desperate as they had at 
first sight appeared. The tearing and smashing and 
crushing of the eye-end, handles, &c., had had the 
happy effect of breaking the faU ; and on removing the 
head, he was delighted to find that the object-glass, 
the slide, the scales, and in fact all the really vital 
parts of the Heliometer proper were intact, and work- 
ing as smoothly and beautifully as ever. 

The life was still there, and the shattered limbs 
were at once placed under the care of able surgeons, 
who in six days made them whole as before. Messrs. 
T. Cooke & Sons, the great opticians of York, Mr. 
Browning, and Messrs. Troughton and Simms of 
London, were all pressed into the work, and with a 
will they accomplished it. But what a time of strain 
it was, and how tired we were before we started ! Yet 
all the while we never ceased to congratulate ourselves 
on the misfortime having taken place when and where 
it did. 

The cause of it was simply that the elevating screw 
was too short, and the instrument being called a 



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Ready to Start. 1 3 



" Universal Equatorial," that is, adapted to all lati- 
tudes, this deficiency could not have been anticipated. 
Had it not been for this trial in Burlington House, 
in all probability, a like accident would have hap- 
pened at Ascension, the result of which would simply 
have meant the utter failure of the expedition. 

It was only at the last moment that we were ready ; 
but we were ready. The evil that is past is not to 
come. 



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CHAPTER 11. 



THE VOYAGE. 



Dartmouth. — Dartmouth shopkeepers. — Dr. Davidson's ** Perfect Re- 
medy for Sea-sickness." — Madeira. — Diving boys at Funchal. — 
Lordly colonists. — Teneriflfe. — What the stewardess thought of the 
Peak.— Our fellow-passengers. — South African Mission "Work. — 
Eaves-dropping. — ^Arrival at St. Helena. — The Ladder. — Landing. 
— "Derelicts." — Johnson's Observatory. — Its present uses. — ^The 
St. Helena Astronomer. —St. Helena skies. — Tempted to stay. 

At Dartmouth, on the 14th of June, we joined the 
Balmoral Castle, a beautiful new steamer of the Donald 
Currie Line, bound for the Cape of Good Hope. She 
had left the London Docks three days before, having all 
our goods on board except the chronometers, which we 
brought with us. None of the outward-bound English 
mail ships touch at Ascension, so that we were under 
the necessity of taking our passage to St. Helena, 
there to wait for a return steamer from the Cape to 
take us back to Ascension. 

After a rapid railway journey, we enjoyed a quiet 
night in harbour. Next morning we had a stroll 
through the picturesque little town of Dartmouth ; for 
our ship would not sail until mid-day on the 15th, 
What a curious old town it is! — with its steep, 
narrow streets, shaded and cooled by projecting piazzas 



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Dartmouth. 1 5 



and gable-ends. Bewitched by the quaintness of the 
place, one sees the streets again alive with the brave 
army of Red Cross Knights that sailed from this fair 
bay so many hundred years ago to do battle against 
the Saracen, and pictures many a " ladye bright " 
peeping shyly from the little latticed windows to wave 
a last adieu to her own true knight. 

Then the scene changes, and gay groups of hand- 
some cavaliers loimge in doorways and at street cor- 
ners, whilst fitful snatches of light song bring dark 
frowns to the grave faces of the Puritan townsfolk, as 
the " Merrie Monarch " holds gay court in that un- 
courtly-looking little mansion in the Butterwalk, where 
the arms of the second Charles are still to be seen, 
carved in oak over the fireplace. 

Dartmouth is delightfully old-fashioned. It is a 
little romance in atone, and primitive to a degree. We 
thought that we had quite finished our shopping in 
London ; but, as always happens, some odds and ends 
had been forgotten, and we now tried to supply them 
here, though not very successfully. One tiny shady 
shop we entered in search of a deck chair, but could 
find no one to attend to us for ever so long, notwith- 
standing vigorous stamping and knocking; until at 
last a neighbour pointed out that I must pull a bell- 
rope over the door. 

This by-and-by fetched the laggard shopkeeper, 
who seemed to fall into a drowsy state again, while we 
poked about in his little shop ; and, since he made not 
the slightest attempt to recommend any of his goods, I 



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1 6 Six Months in Ascension. ch. h. 

suppose we cannot blame him that the chair we finally 
hit upon came to pieces before we reached Madeira. 

Again on board, we found everywhere the signs of 
departure, and I enjoyed watching the bustle. Heavy 
boxes were being lowered into the hold by strong 
arms, and now and again Jack stops to refresh him- 
self with a grim joke. " Heave again, Bill ! I guess 
some old fellow must be taking out his gravestone in 
that 'ere box, it is so precious heavy. Try again. 
Now easy. Lower away ! " 

At last all was stowed away, the hatches were closed, 
the gangway raised, and, punctual as a mail train, we 
were off at noon. 

My husband had been fortunate enough to get an 
empty cabin on deck for his chronometers, and when 
the pilot had left the ship and England could be seen 
no longer, he retired to compare, and I to wind them 
— a duty I had undertaken during the voyage. 
But somehow I couldn't find the keyhole ; and had 
the winding of the chronometers been left to me, 
I fear that they would all have nm down before we 
reached Madeira. Dr. Davidson's " Perfect Eemedy 
for Sea-sickness," with which I had carefully provided 
myself, was of no use at all ; and the first three days 
of our voyage presented to me little variety and less 
pleasure. 

On the evening of the fourth day we sighted 
Madeira, and the much-worked screw had an hour's 
rest, not to speak of the rest to some others, who had 
been less usefully employed, but were sadly more 



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CH. II. Madeira. 1 7 

wearied than this steam-driven giant. Approaching 
Madeira from the north, she greeted us with a stem 
iiihospitable face, rugged and determined in expres- 
sion, with a baked, sun-burnt complexion. But as our 
ship glided slowly along, the coast gradually betrayed 
a gentler nature, until, turning a sharp headland sud- 
denly, Funchal lay before us in beautiful panorama, 
filling the bay and stretching upwards to the very top 
of the steep background in little offshoots of white 
verandahed villas and green terraced gardens. 

Much to my disappointment we had no time to land ; 
but, immediately we came into harbour, numbers of 
little boats put off from the shore. The first con- 
tained half-a-dozen of the well-known amphibious 
diving-boys, vociferating in all the English their Por* 
tuguese tongues would admit of, "Haivsare !" "Fare- 
away sare ! " " Dive for a shillin* sare ! '* and down 
they plunge, invariably bringing up, either in hand, 
mouth or toes, the tiniest silver piece that is thrown 
to them from the ship's side. Copper is scorned by 
these clever little rascals, and it was amusing to wit- 
ness their rage when they found that breath and richer 
harvests had been lost in bringing up a penny. Had 
Portuguese not been to us an unknown tongue, I fear 
we should have heard some hard names. 

Other boats soon crowded alongside, and, after the 
necessary formalities with the Health Ofl&cer, we were 
boarded by a •motley crew of gipsy-looking men eager 
to sell us photographs, shawls, feather-flowers and 
fruit. *' Sell you a basket of cherries for six shillin* 



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1 8 Six Months in Ascension. ch. n. 

sare!" "Beautiful photograph — only three shillin* ! '* 
and some reckless, heavy-pursed colonist, whose box 
of presents from England is not quite full, lets him- 
self be robbed in the most lordly fashion by these 
barnacles, while more patient passengers get plenty of 
cherries for one shilling when the last bell is ringing. 

By the light of a clear soft moon we . steg-med off 
again, and I, for one, was sorry to leave this vine- 
clad isle behind me, and heard with regret the voices 
of its noisy traffickers melt away in the distance. 

Towards sunset on the 20th we sailed through 
the Canary Islands, passing within twenty miles of 
Teneriffe. As I sat on deck during dinner I feasted 
my eyes on the Great Peak. At first it was almost 
entirely enveloped in. mist, which gradually cleared 
away from the top and the bottom, till at last a single 
vapoury band cut the mountain in two, producing a 
wild weird effect. The dark sharp-pointed Peak, 
looking as if it had nothing to rest upon, seemed to 
float in the air like a lost world, and from its great 
height it appeared so close as to be in danger of falling 
upon us ! Gradually the encircling band narrowed, 
then broke up, and the little clouds floated hither and 
thither, giving the most charming effects of light and 
shade as they played on the rugged sides of the great 
rock. Slowly these lakelets of vapour grew less and 
less, then altogether vanished, and the Peak stood 
revealed in its naked grandeur. 

It was a splendid transformation scene, and watch- 
ing it I had forgotten my dinner, till the homely old 



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CH. II. 



Teneriffe. 19 



Scotch stewardess interrupted my reverie with a plate 
of currant tart. I made some remark to her about the 
beauty of the scene. "Ay, ay/^ she said, "it's a 
big hill, but there's nae scenery in earth or ocean like 
oor ain Scotland." 

However, putting aside the claims of our own crags, 
Tenferiffe is a grateful sight to the water-wearied eye ; 
and it had another interest to us besides that which its 
natural beauty and grandeur excited. It was here 
that Professor Piazzi Smyth lived above the clouds 
and wrote his charming book, "An Astronomer's 
Experiment." The story had interested me very much 
when I read it some years ago, the more so that 
the author was a valued friend, and I had now great 
pleasure in speculating where Guajara might be, and 
where the path that the astronomer and his wife 
had toiled up with their heavy instruments to " Alta 
Vista," the site of their home and Observatory^ for the 
time, 11,000 feet above the sea. 

Leaving the Canary Isles behind us we saw no more 
land, with the exception of a distant glimpse of Cape 
Verde, until we reached St. Helena. But to com- 
pensate for this, the sociability of our floating commu- 
nity had greatly increased, and pleasant conversation, 
nmsic, chess-playing and such like, made the time 
pass quickly. 

There were on board forty first-class passengers, 
amongst whom some had a strongly marked indi- 
viduality, with boldly-outlined, well-coloured lives. 
Fresh, hopeful young Englishmen, going out to ostrich 



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20 Six Months in Ascension. ch. h. 

farming and diamond -digging ; old colonists bringing 
home their daughters from English boarding-schools ; 
a clergyman returning from a holiday won after six- 
teen years' labour on St. Helena; a young German 
girl from the Hartz Mountains on her way to a mission 
station in Riversdale ; and two American ladies, also 
destined for mission work in Natal. 

In conversation with these ladies and a life-long 
colonist, the son of a South African missionary, I 
learned much of the mission work among the KaflSrs ; 
of its progress, and alas ! of its many discouragements 
and difficulties. It is hard to know how Christ can 
best be shown to these dark brothers of ours. So 
much care is needed in preparing the uncultured soil 
for the good^seed, that the poor missionary must have 
fear and trembling in dealing with the truth. Careful 
on the one hand to avoid compromise with its perfect 
purity, and on the other, fearful of driving back any 
wavering disciple by making it too hard for him to 
receive. 

Our colonial friend, a man of culture and common 
sense, seemed to think that many of our most zealous 
missionaries fail from a want of true knowledge of the 
mind and nature of the savage. They would have the 
slaves of ignorance and superstition accept eagerly the 
freedom offered in the Gospel, forgetting that the soul 
must first be strained to the note before it can vibrate 
to the sound of the glad tidings. It must be a work of 
time. To forge a single link in the golden chain that 
is being formed to draw the poor heathen to the feet 



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cH. II. Our Fellow Passengers. 2 1 

of his Maker, is surely a work large enough for life — a 
work complete enough for death. 

I was so much interested in hearing the experience 
of one who had seen so much of heathen life and 
Christian teaching, and in being told of the hopes and 
plans of those who had left home and friends to make 
this life better and this teaching more perfect, that I 
was sadly rebellious when, after a truce of three days, 
ray old foe again forced me to beat a retreat to ;ny 
cabin. There I had generally nothing more lively to 
listen to than the irritating thud of rope-quoits and 
shovel-board. 

But sometimes I was better amused. Stray threads 
Df conversation, grave and gay, floated through my 
little window at intervals as the passengers paced the 
deck, and in the lovely moonlight evenings, a young 
couple, thinking no doubt that they had got away into 
a nice quiet corner all by themselves, used to coo their 
tender speeches unreservedly, close to my cabin door. 
It was mean to listen, I grant, but ennui was threaten- 
ing me, and during these enervating days, when a damp 
monsoon blew off the coast of Africa, I was so nearly 
reduced to a pulp, that I had hardly energy left to 
make my presence known. 

Then, for the first time, I thought kindly of our 
east winds, which I believe have done much to make 
England a great nation. How I should now have enjoyed 
a biting blast from Scotland ! Wearied of inaction, I 
often caught myself counting off the days and hours 
like a home-sick schoolgirl; and yet there was no 



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22 Six Months in Ascension, ch. h. 

delay to chafe the most impatient voj^ager. On and 
on, the great ship rushed through the waters ; the 
bells struck the passing hours, and every noon the 
answer to the anxious question, " What's the run ? " 
told of nearly 300 miles further on our way. At last 
on the 1st of July, at 4 a.m., the screw suddenly 
stopped, and I knew and rejoiced that we were in the 
Bay of James Town. 

At the first peep of dawn I hurried on deck and saw, 
so close to the ship as to make me start, dark sterile 
rocks rising almost perpendicularly from the sea, and 
partly enclosing the bright blue bay in which we were 
anchored. At the bottom of a strange cleft in these 
fierce, fortress-looking crags, a quiet little town nestled 
close to the sea, filling up the lap of a valley scarce 
200 yards wide. 

Here was the landing-stage, and just beyond, a 
row of dark Peepul trees fringed the shore, shading 
and cooling the cluster of low, white houses that 
we were so blithe to see. Besides these, little or 
no vegetation appeared. The great towering rocks 
were cold and bare, A long ladder of 600 steps 
sprang from the town up the steep western side, 
called Ladder Hill, and at the top I thought I 
could descry some forts and the grim mouths of 
cannon. 

St. Helena can hardly be mentioned, much less 
looked upon, without memories of Napoleon crowding 
upon us, and I wondered, as I suppose everybody does 
on seeing the island, how the first sight of these grim 



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CH. II. Landing at Si. Helena. 23 

prison walls had affected the man who seemed to find 
the world too small for him ? 

But this was no time to speculate on questions of 
by-gone history. The present was urgent, and sud- 
denly remembering the terrible chaos in my cabin, and 
boxes still unpacked, I gave up dreaming and set to 
work. How very easy it is to pull things out of a box, 
and how difficult to get them into it again, especially 
in a space 7 feet long by 3 broad ! 

The Governor's Secretary was already on board, 
having kindly come off thus early to advise David about 
landing and stowing away his numerous cases. At 
Lord Lindsay's kind instigation, Lord Carnarvon had 
previously sent despatches, requesting assistance for 
him in this and other matters ; and for the timely help 
thus given we were most grateful. 

That lovely Sunday morning the bay was smooth 
/and bright as a mirror, without a trace of the dreaded 
rollers, so that we and all our delicate impedimenta 
came safely and easily to shore. The Governor's 
pony carriage was on the wharf, and while David 
counted and sorted out his goods, I was driven up 
a short incline to the Castle, where I waited for him 
comfortably in the large cool rooms. 

Here I occupied myself in watching for the return 
of four gentlemen, our fellow-passengers, who bad set 
out soon after daybreak for Napoleon's tomb, in the 
interior of the island. They were still missing, al- 
though the Balmoral Castle was getting up steam; 
and the Captain, kind as he was, would be off the 



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24 Six Months in Ascension. ch. h. 

moment the ship was ready to sail. That moment 
arrived ; and just as the ship's bows were disappearing 
round the rocky headland, a single figure rushed franti- 
cally upon the pier, and next minute a white handker- 
chief was floating from an oar. Would the good ship 
see this flag of distress and put back? Yes. With 
the help of a telescope, I was watching events from an 
upper window in the Castle, and rejoiced when this 
*' derelict " was saved. 

But there were still three unlucky ones to be sorry 
for. And, as first the bows, gradually the long white 
hull, and finally the Union Jack on the stern dis- 
appeared, I felt that their case was hopeless ; and so 
it proved. By-and-by other hurrying figures were 
seen to pull off in pursuit, but only to return dis- 
appointed, doomed to five weeks' captivity on St. 
Helena. We sympathized deeply with them, especially 
after we had seen the " Imperial Arms," where they 
must take up their abode, and noted the dull, dead- 
looking street which forms James Town. A street of 
rickety, blistered houses and of dusty ant-eaten shops, 
with untidy and untempting goods therein displayed, 
and closed in, almost to suffocation, by rocks on either 
side. 

The ground rises quickly from the shore, and as we 
drove slowly along, a curious mixture of faces crowded 
at the open doors and windows. All shades were 
there, from the woolly, jet-black Hottentot to the fair- 
complexioned English sailor, leaning against the door- 
post of the "Royal Banner," with "H.M.S. Cygnet " 



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CH. II. Johnson's Observatory. 25 

on the ribbon round his cap. After a short stiff pull, we 
left this motley crew behind, and a shady lane soon led 
us into a lovely garden where palm and pomegranate 
trees shaded the rich luxuriance of sweet- smelling 
roses and scarlet geraniums. A low-roofed veran- 
dahed cottage formed the centre of this little Eden, 
and here we found a comfortable home during our 
stay. 

No sooner was our baggage safely landed, than 
David began to make inquiries about the Observatory 
on Ladder Hill and the best mode of access to it. It 
was in this Observatory that Johnson, about fifty 
years ago, made his catalogue of southern stars ; and as 
its longitude had been determined with considerable 
accuracy by that astronomer, my husband was anxious 
to connect it by means of his chronometers with 
Ascension, and thus strengthen the results for the 
longitude, which he might get at Ascension, from 
observations of the moon. For this purpose it was 
necessary that the chronometers should be conveyed 
to the Observatory, that local time should be deter- 
mined there morning and evening by observations 
with the reflecting circle, and that careful com- 
parison of the chronometers should be made every 
day. 

Ladder Hill rises about 600 feet above sea level 
and forms the western side of the valley in which 
James Town lies. There are two ways . of getting 
to the top — the one by means of the ladder I have 
already mentioned, the other by a very zig-zag carriage- 



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26 Six Months in Ascension, ch. h. 

road, which winds along the side of the hill. It was 
by the latter way that the instruments were conveyed 
by some gunners, through the kindness of Captain 
Oliver, K.A. ; and David's next business was to hire 
a strong little Cape horse to carry him up the same 
road every morning and evening on his visits to the 
Observatory. 

I say Observatory — alas ! it is so no longer. Fallen 
from its high estate, it is now the artillery mess-room, 
and in the recesses formed for the shutters of the 
openings through which Johnson's transit used to 
peep, they stow wineglasses and decanters, and under 
the dome they play billiards ! It may appear un- 
grateful to speak so of a change which was produc- 
tive of so much kindness and hospitality to us ; I do 
not grudge the hospitable St. Helena Mess their 
mess-room, but I do regret that so fine a site for an 
Observatory is vacant. 

Another kind friend and sympathizer in his work, 
my husband found in the Governor, Mr. Janisch. An 
enthusiastic amateur in astronomy, a descendant of the 
great astronomer Encke, born on the island and 
spending his whole life there, he had never before 
met an astronomer, and the welcome he gave was 
warm and cordial. 

Indeed Mr. Janisch had so much to urge in favour 
of St. Helena as an observing station for Mars, that he 
had almost tempted us to remain ; and when we saw 
the clear cloudless sky, night after night begemmed 
with stars, there did creep into our minds a doubt of 



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OH. II. Tanpted to Stay. 2 7 

meteorological statistics, and a fear lest in going 
further we might fare worse. But the risk must not 
be run. Had all succeeded here, well and good, and 
probably my husband would have been congratulated 
on his change of plan, but had bad weather come and 
failiu'e resulted, there would always have remained the 
reflection — ** Whj^ didn't I go to Ascension ? " 



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CHAPTER III. 

ST. HELENA. 

Fresh scenes. — **The Briars."— St. Helena vegetation. —Sandy Bay. 
— Diana's Peak. — A nervous ride — Lot and Lot's wife. — Neglected 
cincIiona.—Tom Timm. — Halley*s Observatory. — Napoleon's tomb. 
— "Yam stalks." — Longwood. — Eelic huuting. — Longwood Farm. 
— St. Helena farming. — The Friar Rock. — The Mountain Maid and 
the Friar. — West Lodge. — Hard times in St. Helena. — Plantation 
House. — Oakbank. — Fate of the ** Derelicts. "—St Helena friends. 
— Good-bye. 

Before entering upon the work that we had left 
England to do, it was a kind chance that took us for a 
holiday to St. Helena. Tired of anxious preparation 
and the constant thinking of one thought, it was 
no real loss of time to turn aside for a rest hy 
the way, and gather fresh strength from fresh scenes 
and from the most delightful air it is possible to 
imagine. 

During our week's stay we were able to make three 
excursions on horseback from James Town, and these 
little peeps into the country showed me so much that 
was strange and new, that I find it difficult to dis- 
entangle one impression from another. So quickly 
did they follow in succession, that the one partly 
effaced the other before time had allowed it to harden 



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The Briars. 29 



on the mind, and the picture memory has to show is 
somewhat blotted and confused. 

The sun had been shining some hours on the hill 
tops, and was just beginning to creep down the dark 
rocks into the valley when we starred for our first 
excursion. Captain Oliver had kindly ofi*ered to be 
our guide to Diana's Peak, the hill 'par excellence of 
St. Helena, and towards it we now wended our way 
southwards and upwards. A narrow bridle-path, 
curling itself among aloes and wild geraniums, soon 
brought us to " The Briars," where Napoleon spent 
the first month of his imprisonment. 

It is a pleasantly situated house, within view of the 
sea at one point, but on all other sides so shut in by 
steep rocks that I wondered how we were to proceed. 
The path, however, gradually opened up as we wound 
round the hills, and new beauties burst upon us at 
every turning. Now a sudden bird's-eye view of the 
little town, looking like a cluster of card houses far 
below ; now a ribbon of clear water breaking into 
feathery spray as it falls over the steep cliff; here and 
there a group of goats or shaggy calves giving life to 
the picture ; and on every bit of level ground some 
pretty white villa with its trim garden relieving the 
wildness of the scene. Straight-limbed aloes were 
shaking their feathery blossoms thirty feet overhead, 
and homelier flowers were creeping humbly round 
their stems. The snow-white blossoms of the beautiful 
moon-plant (Brugmansia suaveolens) scented the air. 
The Hottentot fig {Mesemhryanthemum edule) trailed 



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30 Six Months in Ascension. ch. m. 

its delicate starry flowers among the dark leaves of the 
3'am. The knarled cabbage-tree {Aster gummifenis), 
the castor-oil tree, Port Jackson willows and graceful 
acacias mingled their shades of green with the deep 
red blossoms of the wild fuchsia and the pale yellow 
of the rock-rose {Hibiscus arenatus). 

Winding along the upward path, we came to a gap 
in the ridge of hill through which burst upon us a 
glorious view of the southern coast. For the first 
time in my life I saw the naked grandeur of 
volcanic action, imdimmed by time, imsoftened by 
vegetation. Wild grotesque masses of rock, assuming 
every shape and aspect, were piled up, one above 
the other, with fantastic irregularity, and tinted 
like the opal by the noonday sun. Beyond lay the 
sea, of a deep blue where it bordered the rocks, 
but gradually becoming softened in colour by the 
shadow of a great white cloud far away in the horizon. 
The scene was altogether so unlike anything I had 
ever conceived to be among the beauties of the world, 
that I could have imagined myself somewhere in space 
and looking down on one of those gorgeous, fairy 
clouds that we sometimes see floating in the summer 
sky after a thunderstorm — masses of colour, gloriously 
bright with the brightness of the setting sim, then 
soft and tender as he bids them farewell, and finally 
dark and sad-hued, mourning the death of the great 
painter. 

Such is Sandy Bay on the south coast of St. 
Helena, or rather, such is it as I am able to describe 



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CH. III. Lot and Lot's Wife. 3 1 

it. A rift in the ridge had shown us this glorious 
picture"; presently the rock towered above us again, and 
we saw it no more. Indeed I saw little landscape of 
any kind about this point, for the path had got so ugly 
that I shut my eyes and ignominiously grasped the 
pommel of my saddle. To make matters worse, I had 
been told that the pony I rode was a ** buck -jumper,'' 
and I could not help wondering what would be the con- 
sequence should he take it into his head to exhibit any 
of his feats just at this moment. But this bit of 
nervous riding was short, and fortunately my courage 
was able to hold out until we came upon a more 
level road. About a hundred yards below the Peak 
we tied our ponies to one of the numerous gates that 
are placed along the pathway to prevent the straying of 
cattle, and climbed on foot to the top. 

Here we could command at a glance the entire 
length and breadth of the little island, as well as the 
unbroken circle of sea surrounding it. To the north 
lay James Town, hidden in its narrow valley ; to the 
south, Sandy Bay with its chaos of wonderful rocks 
throwing out their grand outlines against sea and sky. 
One of these detached rocks is no less than 1,444 
feet in height. It is an upright precipitous mass 
of greenish grey phonolite, known by the name of 
*' Lot," and ** Lot's Wife " stands near him, a fit mate 
in size and beauty. To the eastward we looked down 
on a gentler bit of landscape. Here lies the only 
large tract of cultivated land on St. Helena ; and the 
square green fields, farmhouses, and little church 



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32 Six Months in Ascension, ch. m. 

perched on a wooded knoll in the background, took 
us in fancy back to England. 

It was towards this side of the island that we 
began our descent from the Peak, through fuchsias, 
blackberries and ferns of all kinds — ;from the gigantic 
tree-fern to the tiny Acrostichum bifurcatum, creeping 
shyly into nooks, as if it were ashamed of the big 
name which botanists have given to it. In one or two 
places we noticed the curious grass-like Pohjpodium 
marginellum growing parasiticall}'^ on the tree-fern, and 
here too, choked, alas ! and laid waste, are still to be 
seen some plants of cinchona, which our Government 
began to cultivate on St. Helena by the advice of Sir 
Joseph Hooker. The plants flourished well while 
care was given to them ; but this is no longer done — 
a neglect much to be deplored. 

The downward road was more level and less fa- 
tiguing than the path we had followed in coming up. 
Nevertheless we were glad to dismount for rest and. 
refreshment at the " Eose and Crown," the only house 
of entertainment on the island, except, of course, the 
hotels of James Town ; and, together with its landlord, it 
was by no means the least curious thing we had met with 
in our day's ride. Tom Timm, his dusky face aglow 
with heat, and the extraordinary excitement of three 
guests all in one day, rushed out, napkin on arm, with 
the welcome greeting that luncheon was ready. A 
long, uncarpeted, unceiled room was the salle-a- 
manger, with bunches of stags'-moss adorning the bare 
rafters, and on the walls were many works of art, 



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cir. III. Halley^s Observatory. 33 

dark and mysterious-looking enough to be "Old 
Masters.** 

But Tom himself was bright and by no means 
mysterious. He most good-naturedly entertained me 
with his stock of local gossip, while Captain OKver 
and David strolled along to "Halley's Mount** to 
search for the site of the Observatory where Halley, 
in 1677, made his catalogue of Southern stars and 
observed the Transit of Mercury. We did not know 
whether any record of this work remained in stone 
and lime, and it was a pleasant siu'prise to find, on 
the spot that an astronomer's eye at once picked out 
as the most favourable, a bit of low wall, duly oriented, 
and overrun with wild pepper {Cluytia pulcheUa). This 
had been the Observatory, without doubt ; and near to it 
is a quarry from which the stones for its erection had 
evidently been taken. So charmed was my husband 
with this interesting record of the work of 200 years 
ago, that his investigations and surmises regarding it 
left us short time to linger in the Kttle hollow lying 
near the foot of Halley*s Mount. 

Napoleon's tomb is here. It is a lovely spot that 
the great General chose for his last resting-place, close 
by the clear spring that used so often to refresh him 
after his walk from Longwood, over a mile distant. We 
found the place under charge of a French sergeant, 
and almost over-trim in its exquisite neatness. A 
plain iron railing encloses a plot of mossy grass, shaded 
by cypress, willow and other sombre trees, and an 
inner rail, roimd which climb bright geraniums, pro- 



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34 ^^^ Months in Ascension. ch. m, 

tects the tomb itself. An ancient-looking, leafless 
willow hangs over it, but this is not the original willow 
as I had fondly hoped. That has been ruthlessly 
hacked to pieces long since by relic-himters, and this 
lineal descendant, though better protected, already 
looks tattered and forlorn, and will, no doubt, soon die 
the death of its predecessor. With a view to this fate 
indeed, a younger willow has been planted close by 
to take the place of honour when the present tree 
faUs. 

Eelic-hunters are the Goths of the age, and some- 
thing of their savage nature must be in me, for there 
was no resisting the impulse to gather a few leaves 
from the geraniums which wreath the empty tomb. 
St. Helena is so rich in associations of Napoleon the 
Great, that one breathes them in with the air, and 
infected for the time with the insanity of hero-worship, 
we can hardly escape the relic mania. 

Another day we visited Longwood Old House, where 
the term of Napoleon's imprisonment was spent, and 
where he died. The house stands in the interior of the 
island, on a somewhat bleak and treeless plateau, 2000 
feet above the sea. To reach it, we followed the car- 
riage-road which winds up the eastern slope of James 
Town Valley. Now north, now south, this cork- 
screw road led us, now facing the sea, then turning 
to the land — so that I lost all idea of direction. 
But I had confidence in our ten-year-old guide, 
who kept pace with us by twisting his hand into my 
pony's tail and so pulling himself along, — a imiversal 



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Longwood. 35 



practice, which says much for the ingenuity of the 
" Yam Stalks " (St. Helena natives), and for the good 
temper of their horses. 

Arrived at Longwood, we left the ponies under 
charge of our guide, and opening a little wicket, we 
walked through a short garden-path to the door of 
the low rambling house, where a sad-faced woman 
received us politely and conducted us over the dif- 
ferent rooms, telling us what had been the use of 
each. The English and French flags are crossed 
over the fireplace in the entrance hall or *^ salon a 
fumer," and the room contains nothing besides. 
Immediately beyond is the room where Napoleon 
died, its only ornament being a laurel-crowned marble 
bust, standing on the spot where he breathed his 
last. All the rooms are in good repair, but unfur- 
nished, and smelling of disuse. 

The woman in charge told us that formerly all 
French sailors visiting St. Helena used to be marched 
up to Longwood House, but the place so excited their 
quick imaginations that they became quite wild, and 
they have now been prohibited fi:om visiting it. They 
exhibited their enthusiasm chiefly by chipping pieces 
from the door-posts and stripping the paper from the 
walls. Nor have English travellers been guiltless of 
aiding in this work of destruction. 

MeUis says, ''A remarkable instance occurred of this 
bad habit of relic-stealing being turned to good account. 
It was wished that the rooms might be made to 
look as much as possible like what they had been 

D 2 



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36 Six Months in Ascension. ch. m. 

when occupied by Napoleon; but a great difficulty- 
arose about the wall-papers. Not a scrap nor a ves- 
tige of them remained, and no clue could be obtained 
as to their design or colour. This difficulty reached 
the ears of an English officer who had visited Long- 
wood thirty years before and carried off a scrap of 
paper from each room. These specimens, which had 
been carefully preserved, he at once placed at the dis- 
posal of the French engineer in charge of the work, 
who sent them to Paris, where new papers exactly 
resembling the originals were manufactured and sent 
out to St. Helena." 

Close by Longwood Old House stands Longwood 
New House, built for Napoleon, but never occupied 
by him. It was not completed until shortly before his 
death, and he refused to move into it, notwithstanding 
its superior accommodation. In the same cluster of 
buildings there is also the cottage which was occupied 
by Marshal Bertrand during his attendance on Napo- 
leon. It now serves as the dwelling-house of 
Longwood Farm, which we had already admired 
from Diana's Peak. Having previously received a 
kind intimation that the farmer would gladly show 
whatever might be of interest to us, we now took 
advantage of this proffer to ride across the fields with 
him, and see the different agricultural operations that 
were going on. From this and the neighbouring farm, 
5' Teutonic Hall," come the chief supplies of James 
Town. This is due to the energy and skill of two 
English farmers, who, with their families, have turned 



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CH. III. Farming in St. Helena. 37 

to good account the rich soil of decomposed lava, 
which is ready and willing to yield food for man and 
beast. 

But farming in St. Helena, as well as farming at 
home, has many drawbacks to contend against^ The 
last crop of potatoes had been entirely lost through 
want of rain, not enough having been saved for seed, 
which had to be brought from England at great cost. 
Then, worst of all, is the want of a market for cattle. 
Since Christmas, fat cattle had been ready at Long- 
wood Farm for shipment, and no ship had come to take 
them. All this must be taken into accoimt as well as 
the very high price of labour ; 25. 6d. a day being the 
usual hire of a farm labourer, and the "Yam Stalks" 
do not work with the energy of Englishmen. But 
they are obedient, and, once set a going, go steadily on 
like machines. In Scotland we should characterize 
them as " eident " — untranslateable into English ; but 
" slowly and surely industrious " gives some idea of the 
meaning. 

Here for the first time we saw the light-coloured 
island partridges flying over the garden-like fields, 
which are separated from each other by hedges of 
cacti and scarlet geraniums. How gay it was ! The 
bright sunshine, the bright flowers and fields, the 
golden-winged canaries flitting hither and thither, 
darting in and out of the hedgerows, their sweet notes 
almost drowned in the husky whirr of the grass- 
hoppers. 

Our third excursion was made, as the first had been> 



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38 Six Months in Ascension. ch. m. 

under guidance of Captain Oliver, and with the pleasant 
addition of another artillery oflBcer and his wife. This 
time our guide led us into the western and most beau- 
tiful part of the island. Another cork-screw road 
drew us slowly to the top of Ladder Hill, and then we 
cantered pleasantly along by Friar's Valley — so called 
jfrom a curious rock of dark basalt here, which is 
supposed to resemble a cloaked and hooded friar, 
who suffered as a renegade on the spot where it 
stands. 

The legend tells us that : " The place where the 
Friar Eock now stands was once the site of a church, 
adjoining which was the residence of the officiating 
priest, who was looked upon as a model of Christian 
piety, passing his life in acts of charity and benevo- 
lence. Blessing and blessed, this man of God pursued 
his way, imtil he allowed himself to be enthralled by 
the wonderful beauty of a mountain girl who dwelt 
near his home. It was in one of his rambles on some 
charitable mission, that the ill-fated friar first saw this 
lovely shepherdess tending her father's goats on the 
adjacent hill, now called * Goat Poimd Eidge.' They 
had strayed so far that she had vainly tried to 
collect them and was returning home, tired and sad, 
when she met the monk, to whom she told her tale and 
begged his assistance. It was given, and the scattered 
flocks soon collected, but more evil than good was 
done. It would have been well for the good friar if 
this meeting had been the last, but fate ordained it 
otherwise. 



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CH. III. The Legend of Friar's Rock. 39 

''Again and again he sought the mountain hut with 
a tale of love, and finally hesought the maiden to be 
his bride. She promised, but on one condition — ^he 
must renounce his creed and become of her faith. 
The struggle was a strong and fearful one in the heart 
of the monk, but — 

* Love must still be lord of all. ' 

"He forsook the faith of his fathers, broke his vows 
and became a renegade. In the course of time the 
wedding-day arrived; the bride, accompanied by her 
attendant maidens, had approached the altar, the 
ceremony was proceeding, and just as the bridegroom 
was clasping the hand of his beloved, a fearful crash 
resounded, the rock was rent asunder, and every 
vestige of the chapel and of those within^it disappeared 
for ever, leaving in its place the gaunt figure of the 
grim jfriar. A warning, says the moral, to those who 
suffer passion to stifle conscience." 

Such is the story of the unhappy monk — I wonder 
what geologists think of it ! 

The surface of this part of the island reminded me 
somewhat of a honey-comb, into the cells of which we 
now and again descended, finding always at the bottom 
some pretty villa, nestling among acacias, or a white 
farmhouse standing in fields black with rich mould 
washed from the encircling hills. Sometimes our road 
left the cells below and wound along their turf-covered 
ridges, thus allowing us to obtain a fairly good idea of 
the general topography of the country. 



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40 Six Months in Ascension. ch. m. 

I have the vaguest notion of how many miles we 
might have ridden along this zig-zag, up-hill-and- 
down-dale road. I only know that after three or 
four hours of it, I did not object to halt at West Lodge 
for our pic-nic limcheon, which Captain Oliver, with 
kind forethought had despatched, donkey-borne, early 
in the morning. 

A gloomy, half-ruined and haunted house is West 
Lodge, but all around it is bright, and smiling vistas 
of wooded knolls and flower-clad dales stretch far 
away among the hills. Beautiful ferns embellish 
every nook of the half- wild garden, and here and there 
along the paths are stationed great camellia trees with 
a stately burden of crimson and white flowers. 

But this was only one of the many pretty country 
residences which we observed tenantless and in a 
state of ruin. Naturally these signs of a decreasing 
population made us look about for an explanation, 
and several reasons presented themselves. 

Formerly almost all vessels coming from the East 
called at St. Helena for fresh provisions, &c., and it 
might be reckoned that a thousand ships a year, in 
former times, cast anchor in James Bay. But now 
they make swifter passages, and can easily accomplish a 
voyage from the East to Europe without an intermediate 
stoppage. This, with the opening of the Suez Canal, 
has reduced the number of ships calling at St. 
Helena by nearly one-half. 

Then the garrison is greatly reduced, and many of 
the civil offices have] been abolished, the line of 



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OH. III. Si. Helena Homes. 41 

policy pursued by the Home Government towards 
St. Helena being characterized by a somewhat ruth- 
less economy. Plantation House is the official resi- 
dence of the Governor, but he finds it more convenient 
to occupy his private house in James Town, and 
owing to reduced salaries on all sides, even Planta- 
tion House has not quite escaped the infection of 
general decay. But nothing can rob it of its beauti- 
ful surroundings. A square compact mass of building, 
of no architectural pretensions, it stands facing a 
beautiful park, dotted \vith groups of trees of innu- 
merable shapes and shades of colour. Below the 
park are the famous gardens, containing fruit trees 
and tropical and sub-tropical plants in such won- 
derful variety, that all our time in St. Helena, and 
more, would have been needed to examine them 
thoroughly. 

On a rising ground behind Plantation House, the 
little cathedral of the island peeps from amid a grove 
of magnificent cypress trees, which dwarf its tiny 
spire, and, with their sombre masses dark against 
the pale blue sky, form a perfect background to the 
view as we saw it, riding home from West Lodge in the 
twihght. 

But perhaps the most beautiful of all St. Helena's 
beautiful homes is Oakbank, the residence of the 
Bishop. I cannot recall a more lovely spot. Nature 
seems to have denied nothing to this pet child of hers^ 
and Art has helped her gracefully, controlling without 
thwarting her. When we were there, the oak trees. 



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42 Six Months in Ascension, ch. nr. 

from which it takes its name, were leafless, and their 
naked arms, interlacing with the bright green boughs 
of neighbour trees which acknowledge no winter, 
dashed the forest picture with great streaks of grey ; 
and the rustle of withered leaves under our horses' 
hoofs was a homely, autumnly sound. 

Oakbank is the queen of x^ocket landscapes, but in 
ever}^ gully here, little gems lie hid that would • de- 
light a painter's eye, and the variety of scenery 
within so small a compass is indeed wonderful. Grand 
rugged rocks, gentle, grassy slopes, tilled fields and 
hedgerows,,gardens of palms and pomegranates, beds 
of violets and mignonette, clumps of pine trees, way- 
sides of gorse, and everywhere the sea. All this St. 
Helena showed us in a week. No wonder then that 
we found it a happy one, and that we brought away 
with us bright memories to think and talk over among 
the barren rocks at Ascension. 

On Monday the 9th, the Cape steamer was due, and, 
learning caution from ^the fate of our laggard fellow- 
passengers on board the Balmoral Castle, we held our- 
selves in readiness from daybreak. These unfortunate 
gentlemen we had met with several times during our 
ramblings, and they really seemed to bear their mis- 
fortunes bravely, making good use of their unexpected 
time on St. Helena. 

We subsequently heard that the one whose business 
at the Cape was the most pressing had been taken on 
board a troop-ship, that called shortly after we left. 
The Captain would not be induced to take the others. 



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CH. III. 



Good-Bye. 43 



owing to tha already crowded state of the ship ; but 
one of them, careless of all consequences, surrep- 
titiously stowed himself on board. The third, from 
feelings of self-respect, decided not to have recourse 
to this plan, and he probably fared all the better for 
his decision. Just as the troop-ship was under way, 
the mail-steamer from the Cape, bringing the various 
effects of these unfortunates, entered the harbour, and 
thus missed two of them by a few minutes. The one 
who had remained behind, no doubt felt his virtue 
rewarded, and so charmed was he with St. Helena, 
now that his purse and wardrobe had been restored to 
*him, that he resolved to enjoy himself there for a few 
weeks longer. 

It was the morning of the 10th before the call came 
for us. At 7 A.M. the Edinburgh Castle was signalled, 
and some hours later we went on board, accompanied 
by a large party of the kind friends who had given us 
such warm welcome to St. Helena, and whose hospi- 
tality had added so much to the pleasure of oiur visit. 
We were loth to say good-bye. From the Governor 
we parted with great regret, and we shall always retain 
the strongest feeling of gratitude for the sympathy and 
assistance he gave us in our work. Certainly while 
Mr. Janisch is Governor of St. Helena, any astrono- 
mer visiting the island will find a zealous supporter 
and a kind friend. 

With s(5 many St. Helena friends on board we did 
not feel as if we had quite said " good-bye," till a 
noisy, impatient beU rang for the third time. Then 



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44 ^^ Months in Ascension. ch. m. 

last handshakings were given, hats and handkerchiefs 
waved, and as little boats pushed back to the wharf, 
we steamed into wider waters, gradually losing sight of 
those " grey beetling crags '* which hide so much soft- 
ness and beauty. No thunderbolts nor lightning 
shafts, no burning drought nor deadly disease, no 
savage brute nor noxious reptile, not even a lawyer ; 
surely this St. Helena, now melting away in the dis- 
tance, must be the **The Island of the Blessed*' so 
fondly believed in and so earnestly sought for by the 
ancient mariners. 



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CHAPTER IV. 

WHAT ASCENSION LOOKED LIKE. 

Clarence Bay. — ^The "Abomination of Desolation." — Is that Ascension ? 
— Hollers. — Can we land? — An nninviting dingey. — A slippery 
footing on Ascension. — ^A kindly welcome. — "The Thing." — ^The 
beauty of perfect ugliness. — The Captain's Cottage. — Between 
hammer and anviL — Commodore's Cottage. — A bare larder. — 
Shopping in Ascension. — Threatened starvation. — A novel Croquet 
lawn. — Site for the Observatory. — Glorious skies. 

Three days brought us within sight of Ascension. 
What a sight it was ! The sun had been up some 
hours when we anchored in Clarence Bay on the 18th 
of July, and the " Abomination of Desolation " 
seemed to be before our eyes as we looked eagerly at 
the land. 

A few scattered buildings lay among reddish-brown 
cinders near the shore — a sugar-loaf hill of the same 
colour rose up behind and bounded the view. We 
looked about in a sort of hopeless way for " Green 
Moimtain," but it was nowhere to be seen, and we set 
it down as a fable — a mere myth. " Nothing green," 
we said, " exists, or could exist here." Stones, stones, 
everywhere stones, that have been tried in the fire and 
are now heaped about in dire confusion, or beaten 
into dust which we see dancing in pillars before the 



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46 Six Months in Ascension. ch. iv. 

wind. Dust, sunshine, and cinders, and low yellow 
houses frizzling in it all ! 

Is tliat Ascension ? 

Well, not quite ; its coast presented a livelier scene, 
though one that we would gladly have dispensed with. A 
black perpendicular wall of rock jutted out into the bay, 
and on either side of it a stretch of white glistening 
sand swept to north and south. It is on this rock that 
the '* Tartar Stairs '* are cut, and here we must land. 
But how? For this morning beautiful waves are 
dashing and crashing and splashing against the land- 
ing-place, or rushing past it in sportive fury to break 
into feathery foam on the pretty beach, which looks 
like a dainty white ribbon trampled under foot of these 
mad sea-monsters. 

" The rollers are in ! " ** What lovely waves ! " 
*' What a hideous place ! *' were the ejaculatory re- 
marks we heard drop from the ladies leaning over tlie 
ship's side. My heart grew heavy. But seeing H.M.SS. 
Cygnet and Indtcstry in the harbour, I took courage, 
knowing that we should at least find refuge on board 
one of these vessels, and that we should not have to be 
carried on to Madeira, — a misfortune which has more 
than once happened to passengers roller-stayed at 
Ascension. 

There were besides several little heaving boats in 
the bay, and one could not but wonder at their 
audacity in playing so unconcernedly with the mighty 
giants that tossed them about, each in turn, as one 
after one rushed headlong to the shore. While watch- 



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CH. IV. 



Rollers. 47 



ing this scene, we saw a gig put off from the Cygnet^ 
and pull towards us, " An offer of hospitality/' we 
thought, as we recognised the hlue-jacketed oarsmen 
and their commander, whose acquaintance we had 
made at St. Helena. 

" Can we land ? " was our greeting to Capt. Ham- 
mick, as he came on board. ** Well, the flags denoting 
* Double-rollers and Dangerous ' are up on the pier- 
head, but the sea is going down, and I have permis- 
sion for you to try it, if you don't mind wet feet." 
We didn't; so it was decided that I and the heavy 
baggage should be sent on shore at once, while the 
chronometers and more precious goods ! should wait for 
quieter times on board the Industry , where the Captain, 
in the kindest manner, had prepared his cabin for us 
in anticipation of our not being able to land. 

I don't know how the heavy baggage liked it, but I 
certainly wished myself a chronometer more than once, 
when I saw, rising up behind us. a long wall of threat- 
ening water, and before us, the steep, dark rock, wet 
with spray. This feeling increased when we were 
within a few yards of the shore, and I found that we 
must get out of the strong trustworthy-looking gig, 
manned by its stoat crew of English sailors, and trust 
ourselves to a little rickety cockle-shell, which was at 
that moment being baled out by two ebony-coloured 
boatmen. I thought, just then, they looked fiendish, 
and that I could see the baleful eye of a shark, certain 
of his prey, gleaming triumphantly through the green 
waves. But since then I have come to the conclusion 



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48 Six Months in Ascension. ch. iv. 

that our boatmen were very benign, gentle-faced 
Africans, and my shark — a jelly-fish ! 

** You may trust yourself with every confidence to 
these men," Capt. Hammick said to me; "they un- 
derstand the rollers better than anybody else ; they 
will not take you into danger, only you must be careful 
not to attempt landing until they give you the word." 

For some minutes we kept dodging about, and once 
or twice were close under the steps ; but we got no 
sign to stir, and were again and again driven back. 

At last, there came suddenly a perfectly calm mo- 
ment, immediately after an unusually heavy roller had 
tossed our little boat over its head, and we were again 
sculled under the rock in the twinkling of an eye. A 
rope was let down from above ; David at once laid hold 
of it, and at the word *'Now!" he jumped from the 
boat. I instantly followed his example, and thus 
gained a slippery footing on Ascension, with a some- 
what palpitating heart and eyes smarting with salt 
spray. 

Among a little group of officers and men on the 
wharf, we found Capt. Phillimore (the naval officer in 
command) waiting to welcome us. He very kindly 
offered us the hospitality of his house until our own 
cottage should be made comfortable ; so, wliile David 
braved the rollers a second time to make sure that all 
his goods were oflf the steamer, I gladly accompanied 
the Captain in a curious two-wheeled vehicle — ^which 
my conscience would not allow me to call a carriage, 
and which I was afraid to call a cart, lest by so doing 



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Garrison. 49 



I might commit some breach of etiquette. Not know- 
ing the manners and, customs of the natives, I felt the 
safer plan might be to call our means of locomotion 
'*the thing," in faithful imitation of Miss O'Dowd's 
coachman of comic memory. 

It was now nearly noon, and the dazzling sun shone 
with a pitiless glare on everything. I looked about 
me for some beauty to remark upon. But no ! We 
passed great open sheds, piled roof-high with coals, 
square unsightly store-houses of various kinds, a creak- 
ing windmill painted red like a guillotine, and all 
thickly coated with a fine yellowish dust, into which 
our poor horse was sinking, hoof-deep, at every step as 
he pulled us up the gently rising ground leading from 
the wharf. 

Having surmounted this we came upon a dreary flat, 
and still dust and ashes everywhere. Here we found 
facing us a neat little church; to the right the hospitals 
and marine barracks, with their two stories, inter- 
rupted a row of low-roofed, verandahed cottages, one of 
which I gladly learned was to be our home. Beyond, 
were a few scattered, undecided-looking houses, with 
no character to speak of. We drove through these 
before beginning the ascent of Cross Hill, now rising 
straight before us, with the Captain's Cottage about 
half-way up the steep slope. Again dust, ashes, 
cinders; and paradoxical as it may seem, this was a 
hill without beauty, except perhaps that beauty 
which characterizes the fashionable lady's pug-dog — 
the beauty of perfect ugliness. 



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50 Six Months in Ascension. ch. n% 

Without a tinge of green, without a single rough 
shoulder to catch the sun and throw a shadow, this 
was no real hill, but simply 800 feet of smooth cone- 
shaped cinder-heap, surrounded by smaller cinder- 
heaps at irregular distances ; and to render the scene 
still more ghastly, some white grave-stones peel'ed 
through the cinders by the side of the road. 

Ver}'^ glad indeed was I to leave this miserable pro- 
spect, and to get into the pleasant shade of Captain 
Phillimore's verandah. Here I was met with that 
warmth of welcome which is without doubt the most 
effectual rest after the fatigue of a journey ; and this, 
followed by the reviving influences of a cup of tea, 
fortified me for the depressing information which I now 
received as to the limited resources of the island. 

" Scarcity of food and servants ! " Well ! that was 
not very encouraging ; but fortunately, just at present 
there happened to be on the island two convalescents 
fit for work, — one white, the other black, — ^both 
invalided firoin service on the Gold Coast. We seemed 
to be in luck ; but alas ! when these " gentlemen 
helps'* came to be interviewed, it appeared that each 
wished to be master — one had been a ward-room cook, 
the other a steward — neither would scrub floors nor 
nm messages, so, fearing lest I should be between 
hammer and anvil with so much talent in the house, I 
resolved to be my own steward, and engaged only the 
white cook. He promised to wait at table ; and 
Captain Phillimore kindly undertook to let me have a 
Krooman to do the "low caste " work. 



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on. IV. Tubular Gardens. 51 

My menage thus far arranged, I felt "settling 
dowji ; " and when David joined us, he brought the 
further good news that the rollers were " settling 
down " too, and that probably all our goods would be 
on shore before sunset. This being the case, we 
thought it better to lose no time in taking possession, 
and after an hour or two's chat we returned to George 
Town, as maps and geography-books call the little 
settlement. In Ascension itself it is called " Gar- 
rison," and we soon knew it by no other name. 

I did not find that things improved on closer 
inspection ; for now, in walking down the hill, the hot 
cinders burned through my thin boots, and I looked 
eagerly about for the neat square gardens and paved 
streets seen by Sir Wyville Thomson. But I could 
make out only a few tortuous paths of concrete lead- 
ing to the chief buildings, and along the back of a 
single line of gardenless cottages, one of which had 
** Commodore" painted in white letters on the 
verandah gate. It was of this one that we now took 
possession. On either side of the door were placed 
the divided halves of a cask, painted green, and con- 
taining what ouglit to have been a green shrub. 
These floral ornaments were the nearest approach 
to gardens that I ever saw in *' Garrison," and they 
could never, by any stretch of the imagination, be 
called " square," though, as an Ascension lady very 
wittily suggested, " tubular gardens would not have 
been amiss." 

Of course, I explored every nook of my little home, 

E 2 



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52 Six Months in Ascension. ch. it, 

before attempting to fit myself into it : and though I was 
delighted with its dimensions, I cannot say so much 
for its contents. Entering by a glass-door on the 
north-west, I found on the right, a dining-room and 
drawing-room, both of good shape and size, and open- 
ing into each other. To the left was a tolerably large 
bed-room, with dressing and bath-rooms beyond. The 
little kitchen was built behind the dining-room — ^the 
only case in which I saw this arrangement in Ascen- 
sion — ^the kitchens or *^ galleys" being as a rule 
separated from the rest of the house to avoid the heat 
of the cooking-fire. 

Commodore's Cottage stood, like its fellows, facing 
the sea and the north-west, with green jalousie doors 
to the back and front of each room, so as to give free 
course to the refi*eshing trade wind from the south- 
east. This was aU very well if the wind had not been 
troublesome as weU as refi:eshing. But how cross 
it made one, after a severe fit of tidiness, to find 
newspapers, pamphlets, writing materials, and such 
like, strewn about the room in wild disorder ! Yet it 
tried the temper more to sit stifled with the glass shut 
on the " win'ard " doors ; so I preferred the jalousies ; 
and notwithstanding that my watch, card-case, and 
everything available were utilized as weights, it cost 
me many a chase after stray papers, indoors and out in 
the verandah which surrounded our Garrison home on 
all sides. 

But to return to the interior, as I found it on the 
night of our arrival. I have said that I was not 



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cH. IV. The Royal Naval Canteen. 53 

deKghted with the contents, but in one sense I was . 
I have always thought how very tame and uninteresting 
it must be to take possession of a house where the 
upholsterer has done everything ; where every detail is 
perfect, and every nook filled, even the book-shelves in 
the library. I should feel tempted to turn back at 
the threshold, fearing to disturb, even by a restless 
thought, this *' faultily faultless *' establishment. So 
it was, that I gloried here over bare walls, bare floors 
and bare tables ; till I was disturbed in the delightful 
occupation of mentally putting my house in order by 
Hill, our brisk cook, who came to remind me that the 
larder was bare too. 

Then I gave up my castle-building, and accompanied 
Hill to buy and lay in provisions. But this was by no 
means so simple a process as I had expected. No 
butcher ! no dairy ! no greengrocer ! no fishmonger ! 
only this wretched canteen, more full of flies than of 
anything else. I got quite tired and hot with the fre- 
quent, "No, madam, we don't keep it," or ''Very 
sorry, but we are just sold out.'* My demands were 
modest, but they had to become yet more himible 
before accommodating themselves to the limited re- 
sources of the " Eoyal Naval Canteen." Finally, 
however, I succeeded in getting some sustenance for 
the body. 

I then turned to the open door with "Island 
Bakery" written over it — where a pallid baker stood at 
the threshold wiping the perspiration from his forehead. 
Evidently he made his bread by the sweat of his brow ! 



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54 . KS£r Months in Ascension. ch. iv. 

/' Can I have some bread ? " I asked boldly, thinking 
there could be no difficulty here, ** All served out for 
the night, ma'am." " Oh dear ! and when do you 
bake more ? " " The day after to-morrow ! " and my 
heart was sinking, when the good-natured baker added 
" But I can make you a loaf now, if you like." Then I 
revived. 

Now about milk— which David and I were wont 
to consider a necessary of life. I was told, ** a mule 
brings that down every morning from Green Moun- 
tain, i\)hen there is any, A bell rings at 7 o'clock 
and everybody runs for a gill, except when there are 
many sick in hospital, then they get it all." This was 
lively ! " And vegetables ? " *' There are only sweet 
potatoes to be had, . and none will be ' served out ' 
until next Friday." 

Then came the most important question of all. 
'' Where shaU I find the butcher ? " '* Oh ! '' said Hill, 
with a grin, ** there ain't any butcher. One of the 
marines kills sheep twice a week, and on Satm:days a 
bullock, which is ' rationed ' out, sa much to each 
man, and our rations are very small just now, for the 
•eheep and bullocks are starving for food and water. 
Hardly any are killed that have not fainted first ! " 

I thought that I should faint too ; and I could only 
gasp despairingly, "But surely there is plenty of 
fish ? " " Generally, ma'am, but not when the rollers 
are in." Utter collapse ! 

I hastened home sadly from my foraging expedition 
:with a tale of want and woe ; but so strongly did the 



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CH. IV. The Croquet Lawn. 55 

comic element prevail in the recital, that David and I 
broke into peal after peal of laughter, and that was 
almost as good as a meal. " Never mind the larder 
just now," said he in his man-like way, " come and 
see the croquet ground." 

" Croquet ground ! ** I repeated, as a thought of 
Nebuchadnezzar and his way of living crossed my 
mind. *^Can we eat grass?" But I might have 
spared myself the question. Here was no soft inviting 
turf for noiseless balls to glide over, no pretty green 
carpet to deck with puzzling white hoops, no waving 
boughs to shade the heated combatants and cool the 
temper of the vanquished. Oh, no ! The imagina- 
tion must paint no such picture as this. The croquet 
ground behind Commodore's Cottage meant a level 
.piece of glaring white concrete, about thirty yards 
long and fifteen broad, with a close paling on the 
further side, probably to keep off the dust and cinders, 
while on the side nearest to the cottage a few withered 
aloes, with tattered dust-stained leaves, struggled for 
bare life. Suclj was the croquet lawn that I was led 
in triumph to admire. 

" Croquet here ? " ** No, of course not : but don t 
you see it is the very place for the Observatory? 
So level and stable for the piers ; so near the house ; 
and as Cross Hill only cuts off 10 degrees of horizon, 
it will not be in the way of Mars." *' To be sure ! " 
I said; *'just as if it had been made on purpose." 
In our satisfaction at this happy discovery, we quite 
forgot the bare state of the larder, which, I must not 



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56 Six Months in Ascension. ch. iv, 

forget to add, became strangely metamorphosed by 
the time we felt in want of a meal. I have never 
quite learned how, I only know that the effect produced 
on our larder by the thoughtful kindness of Ascension 
neighbours was the reverse of what happened to the 
cupboard of Old Mother Hubbard. 

Somehow it all came right; and sitting that first 
evening after sunset in the verandah which looked 
upon our novel croquet lawn, we could speak of 
nothing, think of nothing, but the beauty of the 
heavens. Though Ascension was barren, desolate, 
formless, flowerless, yet with such a sky she could 
never be unlovely. The stars shone forth boldly, each 
like a living fire. Mars was yet behind Cross Hill, 
but Jupiter literally blazed in the intense blue sky 
now guiltless of cloud from horizon to zenith; and, 
thrown across in graceful splendour, the Milky Way 
seemed like a great streaming veil woven of golden 
threads and sparkling with gems. The Southern 
Cross — a poem in the heavens — shone out a bright 
welcome to us, while our old friend the Great Bear 
still kept faithful watch in the north over our wan- 
derings. How strengthening and restful after fatigue 
and petty worry, is such an hour ! One forgets to be 
careful and troubled about many things, and the soul 
trembles with its load of love and gratitude to Him 
who " made the stars also." 



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CHAPTER V. 

ASCENSION PAST AND PRESENT. 

Ascension discoyered. — Its volcanic origin. — Its shape and size. — 
** Trae as the needle to the Pole."— Embedded turtle.— A French 
opinion of Turtle-soup.— The Sailor's Post-office.— Visit of Abb6 
La Caille— British occupation of Ascension. — Why we keep it. — 
Its peculiar government. — The Governor's troubles. — A decision 
worthy of Solomon. — The population in 1877. — Ascension, the 
Flora Tender. —Sea life ashore. — Ascension mutton.— A gallon of 
water a day. — Novel domestic economy. 

In order to make the process of taking root on 
Ascension intelligible, it is necessary first to explain 
something of the nature of its soil, and the peculiar 
maimer of its cultivation. In other words, to make 
our own particular story less incoherent, it will be 
advisable, in the first place, to tell the little I know 
of the past history of our new home, and in what con- 
dition we found it in 1877. 

Like its upturned face, the history of Ascension is 
featureless and colourless, being only redeemed from 
utter inanity by its contradictoriness. Doubtless there 
were stirring times here once on a day when Vulcan's 
forge was alight, but that was before we short-sighted 
mortals dared to peep into this now deserted workshop 
of the grimy god. 



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58 Six Months in Ascension, ch. v. 

On Ascension Day, 1501, Juan de Nova, the great 
Portuguese navigator, found the fire gone out, and 
only hills of cinder and plains of ash to bear record 
of past labours. Ascension, so called by its dis- 
coverer fi:om the fact of his having sighted it on 
Ascension Day, is one of the peaks of a submarine 
volcanic ridge which separates the northern and 
southern basins of the Atlantic, and is situated in 
lat. 8° S., long. 14° W., almost midway between the 
coasts of Africa and South America. It is one of 
the most isolated islands in the world, and has no 
land nearer than St. Helena, which lies 800 miles to 
the South-East. 

Doubtless the apex of a great volcanic upheaval, 
which the deep Atlantic could no longer hide. Ascen- 
sion is now at rest. Not the slightest trace of volcanic 
action has been recorded during the 877 years that 
have elapsed since its discovery, but the absence of all 
vegetation, and the slow progress of disintegration, 
owing to the dryness of the climate, give it every 
appearance of recent disturbance. Although there is 
no record of recent disturbance on Ascension itself, 
yet there have been observed at intervals, since the 
middle of last century, certain volcanic phenomena in 
its neighbourhood. 

Both in the *' Nautical Magazine" and in the 
" Comptes Kendus '* of 1838, accoimts are given of a 
series of marine disturbances in the open sea, between 
longitudes 20° and 22° West, about half a degree south 
of the equator. ** These facts seem to show that an 



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J 



OH. V. A Fickle Compass. 59 

island or an archipelago is in process of formation in 
the middle of the Atlantic; a line joining St. Helena 
and Ascension, prolonged, intersects this slowly 
nascent focus of volcanic action," So perhaps Ascen- 
sion may one day shake out her skirts suddenly, and 
frighten the greedy sea into giving her up a little more 
land. 

Meantime our little island has an area of 38 square 
miles, and takes the form of an almost equilateral 
triangle, each side of which is about seven miles in 
length. The west side lies nearly north and south, 
its extreme angles being rounded off ; but the eastern 
angle terminates in a well-defined point. Round the 
shore are black and rugged streams of basaltic lava, 
many of which can be traced to points of eruption at 
the base of Green Mountain — a great mass of trachyte 
2,870 feet high, near the centre of the island — or 
to numerous little red-coloured hills that are scattered 
over the plains and northern and western borders. 
This reddish colour is owing chiefly to the large pro- 
portion of iron contained in the lava, as we discovered 
to our personal inconvenience. 

On consulting a compass on one occasion, in order 
to determine our whereabouts, we were much sur- 
prised to see the needle point to what was, according 
to our preconceived ideas, the south ! and still more 
surprised were we, when, on moving the compass 
some little distance, the fickle needle wheeled right 
about! Then we tried it at the former spot, and 
again the needle changed its pointing, so we removed 



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6o Six Months in Ascension. ch. v. 

the loose surface to investigate, and found that a hig 
lump of red lava was the cause of this extraordinary 
behaviour on the part of the compass. " True as the 
needle to the pole " evidently does not mean much 
when there is iron-stone in the neighbourhood. 

Every specimen of rock that we were able to find 
here was purely volcanic, except in some of the little 
bays, where there are immense accumulations of small 
water-roimded particles of shells and corals, inter- 
mixed with a few volcanic particles. At the depth of 
a few feet these are found cemented into a sandy lime- 
stone, of which the softer varieties ai'e used for build- 
ing. It is said that these particles become united in 
the course of a single year, and I certainly found that 
the turtles' eggs, deposited in the sand, get enclosed 
in the solid rock before the sun has had time to hatch 
them. A specimen of limestone in which this was 
the case, was given to me by one of the marines 
employed at South-west Bay to quany stone for the 
limekiln, and Sir Charles Lyell has shown a figure 
(Principles of Geology, book iii. chap. 17) of some 
eggs containing the bones of young turtles found thus 
entombed. 

From time to time, at long intervals, we have short 
glimpses of the little island after the reign of Vulcan 
and under the undisputed sway of the sea-birds. 

One, Mons. Brazen, writing in 1726, tells us that 
Ascension was discovered by Tristan d*Acunha in 1508 ; 
but how could this be when Juan of Portugal dis- 
covered it seven years before? The old Frenchman 



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cH. V. The Sailof^s Post- Office. 6i 

must have been dreaming, possibly after a too hearty 
meal of turtle-soup, for he goes on to say of the turtle, 
'* On en pent manger tant qu'on veut, sans crainte 
de s'incommoder." That depends on circumstances ! 

In 1673 Ascension was visited by the Dominican 
Father Naverette, who speaks of it then as the " Sailor's 
Post Office." '* Mariners of all nations being accus- 
tomed at that time to leave letters here, sealed up in a 
bottle, in a certain known cranny of some rock, to be 
taken away by the first ship which passed in an oppo- 
site direction/' 

We hear that a man of mark lighted on the island 
in the month of April, 1754. At that time Abbe La 
Caille spent five days there ; but evidently without 
seeing much that he considered worthy of record, for 
all he tells us is, "Ascension est une espece de butte 
en pleine mer. Elle est couverte d'une terre rouge, 
semblable a de la brique pelee. Sa capacite est un 
gouffre, qui retentit d'un bruit sourd et confus lorsqu'on 
frappe le sol des bords du volcano." 

Portuguese and French alike passed the untempting 
isle. No nation coveted its barren shores, until the 
British lion stretched out a paw in 1815 and gathered 
it into his heap of treasures. Napoleon had then 
been sent to St. Helena, and we dared not leave such 
a vantage point open to the enemy ; so the British 
flag was planted on yet another spot of the globe, and 
Ascension became, to all intents and purposes, a man- 
of-war guarding Napoleon at St. Helena. Though~ 
there is now no Napoleon to guard, we still keep pos- 



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62 Szx Months in Ascension, ch. v. 

session of Ascension, for no other reason, that I caft^. 
see, than that we do not wish anybody else to have it. ^ 

True, it is useful as a coaling station, and the fresh 
trade-wind, constantly blowing across its flowerless, 
waterless plains, brings health to many of our poor 
sailors who have drunk in the blood-poison of the 
Gold Coast swamps. But need we spend ^640,000 a 
year for this, when St. Helena might make a better 
Sanatorium at half the expense ? There the S.E. 
trade-wind blows still more freshly, and cool showers 
fall to beautify everything, and to supply water and 
fruit and vegetables in plenty for the sick. 

In the Ascension hospitals — of which there are two, 
with a staff of three medical officers — the want of these 
advantages is much felt ; and moreover, the cheerless, 
changeless surroimdings are likely to have a depress- 
ing influence on nerves already weakened by fever and 
ague. 

All this must tell against Ascension as a naval 
hospital ; but probably the Admiralty may find some 
advantage in having the place perfectly imder their 
own control, and thus being able to keep the men in as 
perfect discipline as when afloat. In case of war, also. 
Ascension, in the hands of an enemy, might be the 
means of inflicting serious injury on our commerce — • 
l^'ing as it does, directly in the track of our merchant 
ships on their way to and from the East. So we keep 
as a friend what might prove a dangerous foe, and pay 
dearly for our white elephant, rather than aUow any- 
body else the privileges and expenses of possession. 



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CH. V. The Captain's Difficulties. 63 

The government of Ascension is unique. No other 
land in the world is ruled by the same laws, and my 
husband and I are the only civilians that have ever been 
subject to them. When David decided on this island as 
the most favourable spot on which to observe the 
Opposition of Mars, the first step was to obtain permis- 
sion from the Lords of the Admiralty to go there. 
This permission was readily granted, through the kind 
intervention of the Astronomer Eoyal ; and not only 
that, but, what was of immense importance to me, the 
accommodation usually accorded to a married officer 
was provided for us. Our official letter also contained 
the promise of assistance in erecting the Observatory^ 
a blue-jacket for night-watch, and a gracious permis- 
sion to hny meat. Without this letter, we could na 
more have landed on Ascetision than we could have 
boarded a line-of-battle ship. 

The sway of the Captain is quite as absolute in the 
one case as in the other, and, generally speaking, the 
same regulations apply to both. But there is one 
notable exception. A certain number of women and 
children are allowed on board this " ship ashore,'^ 
which of course has the effect of somewhat relaxing 
the discipline. Indeed, it is on record that a certain 
Captain was so perplexed by his difficulties in govern- 
ing the female portion of his crew, that at last he gave 
up the attempt in despair. 

But a propos of these difficulties of his, there is a 
story told, which, if true, shows that on one occasion 
at least, he proved himself no mean diplomatist. 



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64 Six Months in Ascension. ch. v. 

Once upon a time, a fierce war raged between two dames 
of, let us say, equal degree. The apple of discord 
was — ^precedence in church ! Each claimed her right 
to the pew in front of the other, and both being 
equally determined, there seemed no way of settling 
the question except by referring it to the chief. This 
in due course was done, and the decision is worthy of 
Solomon : " Let age take the higher place," said the 
wily Captain, '* and let the younger lady give way to 
the elder ! " From this there was no appeal, and next 
Sunday, lo ! both ladies were seated in the pew nearest 
to the door. The lower place was now the prize, but 
whether a new war, more desperate than the old, 
broke forth in consequence, and whether the poor 
Captain's troubles turned his brain in the end, neither 
history nor tradition sayeth. 

This is a legend of the island, but I have more 
respect for my sex than to believe it, and the state of 
society on Ascension in 1877 strengthens my unbelief. 

At this time I foimd myself the sixth lady on board ; 
and a few of the men are allowed to have their wives 
with them, on condition that the latter make themselves 
helpful to the community in some way. The male 
population is under 200, and consists of a company of 
marines, a few blue-jackets, several St. Helena boys 
who act as servants to the officers, and 70 or 80 
Kroomen — a fine race of negroes from Kroo country on 
the West Coast of Africa, about whom I shall have 
more to say presently. All these men are of course 
under the strictest naval discipline, and the Captain's 



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CH. V. The Flora Tender. 65 

office is the " quarter-deck," where every offender, from 
the greatest to the least, is judged and sentenced. 
Everything is the property of the Government, and 
each officer and man, receives his daily ration of bread, 
meat, and " grog," just as on board ship. 

Indeed, in the Naval Gazette, the population of As- 
cension will be found under the heading " Crew of the 
Flora Tender ; *' and service here does not mean half-pay 
to the naval officer, but counts for active service afloat. 
Ascension acquired the name of the '^ Flora Tender," 
I believe, at the time that H.M.S. Flora was anchored 
there, and when the island of course provided her sup- 
plies. Now the Flora is stationed at the Cape for 
better anchorage, but her *' Tender " still stands firm 
in mid Atlantic, and never drags her anchors as the 
Flora once did alongside of her. 

It was late in life for us to go to sea, but we very 
soon dropped into sailor-like ways, and by-and-by we 
adopted even the language of Jack, A kitchen was 
not a kitchen here, but a *' galley;*' the pantry became 
a " locker ; *' our floors and tables were no longer 
scrubbed, but " swabbed out ; " and the dinner had 
not to be cooked but to be got " under- weigh." 

The only regulation we mutinied against was, 
" Lights out at 10 p.m. ; " and for this rebellion we got 
a free pardon, no doubt on the ground that an astrono- 
mer, being a species of lunatic, is not amenable to the 
laws of any country. 

We were indeed in a new country, and one that 
taught us, with many other things, the fallacy of the 



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66 Six Months in Ascension. ch. y. 

belief that " Gold commands everj'thing." Not even a 
Bothschild could buy a juicy leg of mutton here, nor 
enjoy the luxury of a fresh salad with his cheese. 
That mutton ! Shall I ever forget it ? Our first 
*' gigot," of hock-bottle shape, would have made an 
English butcher faint, and ought to have been sent to 
the British Museum, there to consort with time-tough- 
ened mummies, and testify to future generations the high 
state of training attained by Ascension sheep in 1877. 

Poor sheep ! They were almost starving ; and so 
were the miserable, gaunt-looking bullocks, that we 
sometimes saw prowling around the house at night, 
having wandered over five miles of terrible road from 
Green Mountain in search of food and water. I could 
not bear to see them in such distress, and yet we could 
not relieve them, being ourselves limited to o?ie gallon 
of water a day for all purposes, and our whole allow- 
ance would have been but a drop on the tongues of 
these poor animals. 

This scarcity of water it was at first very difficult to 
take into account in household expenditure ; and my 
surprise was great when, on the first morning I sent 
some linen to be washed, " Sam," our handsome Kroo- 
man, returned to say that I had forgotten to send the 
water. This was truly an extra thought to the house- 
wife ; and in many ways the first days of housekeeping 
on Ascension were rather bewildering. But by-and-by 
light appeared through the wood, and I foimd that 
once started on the proper routine, the road was not so 
rough after all. 



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cH. V. Ascension Cookery. 67 

By careful management and a plentiful use of salt- 
water whenever it was practicable, we could eke out 
our scant allowance of fresh water to a sujficiency; and 
this novel poverty enabled me to make two valuable 
discoveries in culinary art, viz.J that fish and potatoes 
are better when boiled in salt water than in fresh. We 
soon got accustomed to tinned milk and vegetables ; 
and when the rollers disappeared, we found ourselves 
by no means dependent on the scanty meat rations, for 
the fish here was as good and plentiful as it had been 
at St. Helena. And then there was the turtle ! 

Surely Ascension should be the paradise of Alder- 
men. The first spoonful of that clear, creamy nectar 
called Tiurtle Soup, is enough to reconcile any gourmet 
to banishment here for life ! A turtle was killed once 
a week, and our share of the booty generally pro- 
vided us with sufficient to make a turtle-steak pie, 
besides a slice of fin for soup. The steaks were excel- 
lent, stewed or baked, but they could not stand the 
ordeal of a gridiron. Cooked over the fire, the meat 
became hard and juiceless, almost as bad as an Ascen- 
sion heef steak. "With the fin, and taking care not to 
omit the " calipash," and " caUpee'* we made delicious 
soup, when we could spare water for it; but some 
weeks we had to pay the price of a little extra extrava- 
gance in the precious fluid, by being deprived of our 
soup. Then, with sad hearts, we stewed the fin, and 
it made a palatable if not a pretty dish. 

Verily, all one's pre-conceived ideas of the relative 
values of things were here turned upside down. 

F 2 



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68 Six Months in Ascension. ch. v. 

Water carefully measured and treasured, potatoes 4d. 
per lb., occasional cabbages from St, Helena knocked 
down by auction at Is. 6<?. each, milk priceless, and 
turtle soup for nothing. It was very difficult to com- 
prehend at first, and*I suffered much from alternate 
feelings of stinginess and prodigality before being able 
to master this new domestic economy ; but after the first 
feelings of bewilderment were over, the novelty was de- 
lightfal. Something like the fresh, stirring sensation 
of a shower-bath, after the head has recovered from the 
first shock of the falling water. 



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CHAPTEE VI. 

ROUND ABOUT GARRISON, 

Erecting the Observatory. — A busy day. — The Turtle-ponds. — Doomed 
turtles. — Captain Brandreth's Story. — Turtle - nests. — Turtle- 
turning. — Happy turtles. — St. Mary's Church.— The Chaplain's 
protest. — Change of weather. — Green Mountain clouds. — Our 
troublesibegin. 

Our first work was, of course, the Observatory, 
for observations ought to begin on the 17th of July, 
and it was necessary that no time should be lost in 
getting ready. 

Our twenty tons of baggage had been landed on the 
evening of our arrival. At 6 o'clock on the following 
morning, carts were busy bringing up the numerous 
cases from the pierhead, and marines were at work 
unscrewing box-lids and unsoldering tin-lined cases. 
The sound of hammer and saw woke an echo in the 
still morning, and by breakfast time the croquet 
ground was littered with extraordinary heaps of queer- 
shaped materials. 

In the south-west comer, masons were laying down 
a level bed of cement for the sleepers of the circular 
railway on which the Heliometer House revolves ; for, 
as stars had to be observed in all parts of the 
heavens, the opening of the Observatory must neces-^ 



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yo Six Months in Ascension. ch. vi. 

sarily be arranged to view any part of the sky. 
This was managed as follows. 

A strong octagonal frame was mounted on flanged 
wheels rolling on the railway, and this frame carried 
a structure of iron gas-pipes, screwed together and 
stiffened by cross ties of iron wire— the whole forming 
a species of cage. To make this a good water-tight 
house, it was necessary then to cover it with canvas, 
previously shaped and fitted with means of attachment 
to the frame. My husband was no stranger to the 
details of this portable Observatory, which he had 
already used in Lord Lindsay's Transit of Venus 
Expedition at Mauritius; and the naval artificers of 
Ascension proved willing and intelligent workmen. 

Before night the iron cage was revolving sweetly on 
its well-oiled wheels, and a couple of blue-jackets were 
lashing on the canvas cover. The process of fixing 
the canvas was very like that of reefing a sail, so Jack 
was quite at home ; and then the rolling dome was so 
like the revolving turret of an ironclad, that in this 
novel combination of sea-machine and sea-work 
ashore the sailors took great delight. 

In the north-east comer, some marine carpenters 
were busy putting up the Transit Hut. This Ob- 
servatory has also a history. It had been constructed 
at Greenwich for the British Transit of Venus Expe- 
dition in 1874. It had been in Egypt, mounted on the 
Mokattam Heights above Cairo ; and probably many a 
Pacha had smoked his cigarette under its cover when 
visiting Captain Orde Brown at the Venus station there. 



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CH. VI. The Croquet Ground Occupied. 71 

Like everything emanating from our National Ob- 
servatory, it bore the stamp of the order and method 
which characterize our Astronomer Boyal. Every 
screw and every plank of it were so marked and num- 
bered, that, almost without instruction, the marine 
carpenters could fit it together, after David had laid 
down the lines of its position. 

This Observatory, unlike the Heliometer House, was 
fixed, and its shutter opened due north and south, so 
that the Transit Instrmnent inside might be capable of 
being directed to any celestial object as it crossed the 
meridian. 

It was indeed a busy day for my husband, for morn- 
ing and evening " sights " had to be taken with the re- 
flecting-circle to determine the eiTor and rates of his 
chronometers. The shadow of a plumb line had to be 
laid at noon, to give the line of direction for the foun- 
dation of the Transit Hut ; and all day long he toiled 
in shirt-sleeves, unpacking the more delicate parts of 
the instnunents, and trying to be everywhere at once, 
so as to keep all going. 

That evening there was, to all appearance, a com- 
plete Observatory on the croquet lawn ; but much had 
still to be done. The Transit Hut was outwardly 
finished, but the piers inside had yet to be built, and 
the instrument mounted thereon and adjusted exactly 
in the meridian. With regard to the Heliometer 
Observatory, though the heavier parts of the in- 
strument were in situ, the tube and more delicate 
parts remained to be attached, and the whole had 



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72 Six Months in Ascension. ch. vi. 

to be afterwards adjusted accurately by observations 
of stars. 

However, the third day of steady hard work, by 
night and by day, saw all in order, and an Observatory 
established, as complete as the heart of travelling 
astronomer could desire. Our Observatory staff was 
also completed by the addition of an intelligent blue- 
jacket, by name " Graydon," installed as night-watch 
and lamp-bearer. 

The anxiety of Observatory building being off David's 
mind, and the chief dijB&culties of the commissariat de- 
partment off mine, we began to look outside ourselves 
a little, and, after the fatigue of so much change and 
so many new sensations, to enjoy the rest of one day 
repeating itself in the next. 

We began to think of little excursions when the sun 
drew near the west horizon, and our first walk had for 
its object a visit to the famous Turtle Ponds. These 
lie close to the sea, at the north end of Garrison, 
just where Long Beach terminates in rock under the 
fort ; and are simply two large stone-built enclosures, 
into which the sea flows freely through narrow sluices. 
Here I saw more than a himdred huge creatures, 
looking like monsters of a bygone age. At first sight 
these dark masses, just showing above water, might be 
mistaken for slimy, seaweed- covered rocks, till one of 
them slowly moves — ^places a finny foot on the top of the 
'* black thing " next to it, and rears aloft an ungainly 
head, showing a breast of leathery, shrivelled skin, 
speckled and streaked with a motley of yellow, green. 



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on. vr. The Growth of Turtle. 7^ 

brown and red. The small head and the slow, undula- 
tory movement of the neck, betray a member of the 
reptile family, but here the serpentine character ends. 
Everybody is familiar with the shape of what Words- 
worth calls — 

"A shell of ample size, and light 
As the pearly car of Amphitrite, 
That sportive dolphins drew." 

OiJy Wordsworth, I think, could have found any- 
thing so pretty to say about the turtle shell, which 
entirely encases the unshapely creature. Those we 
saw were certainly of ample size, each animal weighing 
from five to six hundred weight ; but they take a long 
time to acquire this weight, and the full-grown ones 
are said to be a hundred years old. 

I do not know how this conclusion is arrived at, for 
the young turtle are seldom, if ever, seen from the 
time that they make their way into the water, straight 
from the egg, until they return again to land, at full 
growth and maturity, to deposit their eggs ; but they 
are certainly slow-moving, slow-living, slow-growing 
animals. 

The marine cooper in Garrison had, with great 
difficulty, reared a turtle from the egg imtil it was six 
months old. At that age it could easily be covered by 
the hand, and as the baby turtle, newly hatched, is 
about the size of a Dorking chick, at this rate of 
growth it must needs take a long time to develope into 
a gigantic animal of six hundred weight. Some have 
been known to weigh as much as eight hundred weight. 



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74 Six Months in Ascension. ch. vi. 

for this species of turtle {Chehne Mydas) is quite a 
giant compared to the little turtle of the West 
Indies. The latter, however, is the more delicate 
for table use, and is the favourite in the London 
market* 

The green turtle of Ascension, being not only less 
delicate in flavour but more delicate in constitution, 
is very difficult to convey to England alive, especially 
in winter. Many are the pathetic stories told of 
poor doomed turtles, lying on their backs on ship- 
board and sobbing their lives away, thereby causing 
the expectant recipient to turn homeward from the 
London Docks a sorrowing and soup - disappointed 
man. 

Captain. Brandi'eth, K.E., who visited the island 
officially some forty years ago, says, — ** In 1830, 
the commandant freighted the transport with sixty 
of the finest flappers that the season had produced. 
They were destined for some of the most distin- 
guished individuals in England, and the largest and 
finest was for His Majesty, with instructions, if but 
one survived, it should be considered as so appro- 
priated ; the commandant acting as nearly as possible 
upon the principle that the king never dies. And the 
precaution was by no means unnecessary, as, in fact, 
only one did survive. To prevent intrigues in favour 
of particular patrons or friends, each turtle was marked, 
on his fair white belly-shell, with the name of the 
owner, and the sailor in chai'ge of the party duly re- 
ported each morning their state and condition, as 



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CH. VI. Turtle. 75 

thus : — * Please, your honour, the Duke of Wellington 
died last night,* or, ' I don't like the looks of Lord 
Melville this morning, sir.' Then followed certain 
interesting questions: — 'How is the Lord Chan- 
cellor ? ' ' Why he looks pretty lively, sir,* and so 
forth." 

One of the many curious facts connected with the 
turtle is, that no males are ever seen. The females 
are captured when they come to lay their eggs on the 
little sandy beaches that run here and there into the 
rocky coast of Ascension. At North-east Bay, South- 
west Bay, Dead Man's Beach, &c., there are men 
stationed during the turtle season, from Christmas to 
Midsummer, to watch for the imwary turtle as she 
scrambles up, about a hundred yards above high-water 
mark, to deposit her eggs. Here she digs three or 
four nests for herself, one after the other, eight or ten 
feet across by about two feet deep. In these she lays 
often three hundred eggs in a season ; forty or fifty in 
each ; and leaving them to incubate in the hot sand, 
a two months' process, she makes for the water 
again. 

The men are forbidden to capture the turtles until 
after they have deposited their eggs, but as the cautious 
mothers often perform an imsatisfactory manoeuvre 
called " making a horse-shoe " (that is, they come 
ashore, and not finding a place to their liking, simply 
describe a semicircle on the beach, and return to 
the water without making a nest at all), the men 
are eager to seize the poor things as soon as they ap- 



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76 Six Months in Ascension, ch. vr. 

pear, for the sake of the half-crown awarded for each 
turtle. 

For turtle-hunting it is necessary to be armed with a 
stout stick and a noose of rope. The noose has to be 
slipped over a back and fore fin, which, by this means, 
are drawn together, and the rope is wound up on the 
stick till it touches the turtle's upper shell; this 
forms a lever by which the creature is turned over. 
Once on her back the unhappy turtle is perfectly help- 
less, and in this way an average of 300 turtles are now 
collected every year fi:om the various breeding-places^ 
and transferred to the ponds on Long Beach, there to 
wait the evil day of soup-making. 

Formerly the niunber was much greater, so many as 
2,500 turtles having been turned in one year ; and it 
is said that in the ** good old times" of Ascension any 
ship's crew landing here might have turned fifty in a 
night. Connoisseurs say that the turtles fresh from the 
sea are better fare than those kept long in reserve ; so 
if any remain when the new stock arrives, they are 
restored to liberty. But, by the less fastidious, turtle 
is eaten with equal relish after the animal has lain in 
the ponds for a year without diet of any kind. They 
live on ** nothing a-year *' — happy turtles ! Of course 
wise men tell you that they feed upon sea- weed, and the 
crustaceans and molluscs which are washed into the 
ponds with the salt-water, but surely these can be to 
them but the veriest bon-bons, and I prefer to believe 
that they dine but once a-year! Then I can also 
believe in their great age, and look upon the finny 



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CH. VI. Sunday in Ascension. y^j 

monsters with awe, as the last survivors of the ante- 
diluvian age, when life was Uved slowly, and ninety 
years were but as the childhood of a man. 

It was so hot during the day, that we, in common 
with our neighbours, preferred to shut ourselves up 
within jalousies as much as possible. Thus it hap- 
pened that the first time I peeped abroad in full sun- 
light was to go to church, and the tinkle, tinkle of the 
little bell gave me strongly the feeling of home. There 
was something exquisitely soothing and comforting too 
in the quiet worship of God in this isolated tabernacle, 
surrounded as we were by the bowed heads of so many 
of our brave sailors. 

St. Mary's, at Ascension, shares, with the other 
buildings in Garrison, the monotonous level that lies 
between the foot of Cross Hill and the roadstead. 
There is little of the ecclesiastical in its exterior, 
except it be the primitive belfry, containing a single 
unmelodious bell which is rung in rather a primitive 
way by pulling the clapper. The outside walls are of an 
ochre yellow, flecked with green jalousies, which shade 
the glassless windows. Through these the cooling 
breeze steals in and just stirs the leaves of the open 
prayer-books, then, with a hushed whisper, softly eS'- 
capes, as if afraid of having touched too rudely some 
holy thing. 

Within, near the door, stands a tiny baptismal font 
of the soft grey limestone of Ascension, and as you 
pass along the aisle, you note the many loving tiibutes 
to the memory of dead comrades, which, with their 



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78 Six' Months in Ascension. ch. vi. 

simple inscriptions, give a pathetic interest to the 
plain rough walls. 

As to ornament the little church has not much to 
boast of, except it be that of many low deal pews 
filled to overflowing with earnest-faced men, each one 
the very picture of cleanliness and order in his fresh 
Sunday jacket, innocent of stain or crease. What a 
splendid dress is that wide-throated blue jacket, and 
how well it suits these frank fearless faces, where the 
bright, intelligent eyes tell that training and disci- 
pline have not made the machine and unmade the 
man! 

Hardly a treble note softens the rough, hearty 
voices which fill the church with well- declared praise. 
David, in his civilian coat, is quite as exceptional as 
the Chaplain in his surplice ; so that it was not diffi- 
cult to imagine one's-self on board some ship at sea, 
and I almost expected to hear the sound of waves 
dashing against the outside walls. 

Not only in outward seeming but in inward desire 
did we differ somewhat from our neighbours here, for 
now a great longing for rain was abroad — a longing 
not unnatural after a drought of fourteen months, with 
only one poor condenser on board, capable of providing 
no more than twelve tons of water per week for nearly 
two hundred souls and many thirsty brutes. This 
seemed improvident on the part of the powers that be, 
and our Chaplain so resented it on behalf of his 
flock, that he flatly refused to pray for rain, saying it 
was England's duty to supply the " Flora Tender" as 



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cH. A'l. Fears. * 79 

well as the other ships of her navy, with proper 
condensers. 

We shared this opinion, having come many miles to 
escape from clouds and rain ; and when the weather 
conversation was afloat, we alone were silent and 
rejoicing. But alas ! before very long it seemed as if 
our rejoicing was to be turned into mourning, for not 
only clouds, but rain came to damp our selfish joy. 
During the nights of the 25th and 26th July some 
showers fell in Garrison from the heavy masses of 
cloud that had for many nights previous, rolled over 
Cross Hill from Green Mountain, sadly interfering 
with astronomical work. 

On the 17th the Observatory had been ready for 
duty; but no sooner were the instruments adjusted 
and some preliminary observations made, than the face 
of the heavens darkened and we began to fear. For 
five nights no work was done, and on many nights fol- 
lowing only interrupted observations could be snatched 
from between the clouds. It was a treacherous sky, 
and I wasted much time in ^vatching it. After shining 
upon us with unremitting fury for twelve burning 
hours, the sun would set over the sea in a wealth of 
flame, leaving the cloudless heavens flushed with a 
proud memory of his departed glory. 

This pink after-glow is quickly succeeded by the 
sudden night of the " gloamingless " tropics, and as 
the blue-black vault o'erspanning us begins to sparkle 
with lesser suns, we long impatiently for Mars to rise 
over the crest of Cross HilL But alas! firom the 



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8o Six Months in Ascension. en. vi. 

birth-place of Mars a tiny white cloud arises no bigger 
than a man's hand. It looks soft; and harmless enough 
at first, but while you watch, the snow-white mass gets 
streaked with grey as it lengthens across the sky, like 
some serpent monster gathering strength and darkness 
in its course. 

And Mars ? We know he is behind that envious 
cloud, and we watch for a rift. It comes; the sky 
seems cleansed by the trail of the serpent, so pure is 
it; and in the twinkling of an eye the telescope is 
turned on the planet. But to no purpose, for again 
a fleecy cloudlet peeps over Cross Hill, and, rushing 
swiftly onwards towards Mars, soon wraps him in a 
soft grey mantle, and again he is lost to us. 

These " rifts in the clouds '* were for me moments 
of intense excitement, and, knowing how many minutes 
were required for each measure, I watched sky and 
chronometer with aching eyes, dreading lest the ad- 
vancing cloud should give too little time for any work, 
as it chased its predecessor across the sky. They 
were very beautiful too, these streaks of blue — 
so bright and pure — with Mars brighter and purer in 
their midst — ^like some noble river rolling between 
snowclad mountains and wearing a diamond on her 
bosom. 

Yet this lovely, changing sky I could not love, for 
empty pages, where figures should have been, lay open 
by the Heliometer ; and my husband looked weary, 
while Graydon and I yawned in concert. Many hours, 
indeed whole nights, this went on, and sometimes the 



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Empty Pages. 8i 



clouds followed each other so rapidly that no measures 
could be secured at all. Then I was seized with an 
insane desire to get beyond this nest of clouds. But 
it is not so easy to pick up a Heliometer and walk over 
a hill with it ; and there really seemed nothing to be 
done, but to fold our hands in idleness and wait for 
the silver lining. 



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CHAPTER VIL 

A NIGHT ON THE CLINKER. 

Weary weeks. — ^WTiat is to be done ? — Can we get beyond the Clouds ? 
— I determine to explore. — A typical night. — ^Walking over 
** clinker." — Jimmy Ducks. — Light through the cloud. — Midnight 
on the clinker. — Chasing a Cloud by moon-light. — My clinker 
cairn. — Return to Garrison. — The decision.— Reconnoitring. — A 
hopeful spot. — Two "ifs." — Preparations for tent-life. — The first 
Parallax Determination. — **The man that hesitates is lost." 

Thus passed two weary weeks. We pored over dry 
statistics, hunted up every scrap of weather record, and 
annoyed everybody with questions about cloud and 
wind ; but to little purpose. 

The crew of the Ascension is a changing one, three 
years being the usual term of service, so that no 
one was able to give us the benefit of long experience 
of Ascension weather. The answers to our questions 
were contradictory and distracting in the extreme, 
being based on casual observation or general impres- 
sion. The only thing that everybody seemed to agree 
about was, that " such cloudy weather had not been 
known within the memory of the oldest inhabitant ; it 
was altogether exceptional, and by-and-by there would 
be as clear skies as even we could desire." Yes, *' by- 
and-by " perhaps; but meantime Mars would not wait, 



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cu. VII. A Startling Proposal. 83 

and the present was threatening our expedition with 
disaster. 

Oh ! those weary weeks. Fearful of losing a single 
hour of star-light during the night, we watched alter- 
nately for moments of break in the cloud, sometimes 
ivith partial success, but more frequently with no result 
but utter disappointment, and the mental and physical 
strain, increasing every night, grew almost beyond our 
strength. What was to be done ? There was the Ob- 
servatory complete, the instnmients faultless, and the 
astronomer idle, for there too was the cloud. Some- 
times it " curtained the sky from pole to pole,'* but 
more frequently it confined itself to the narrow, snake- 
like band, stretching across the zenith and showing 
clear sky to north and south. 

Is anything so temper-trying as waiting — anything 
so heartbreaking as enforced idleness in the midst of 
work ? I bore it badly, or rather I didn't bear it at 
all, and the peevishness of disappointment was fast 
giving way to a sullen despair in my mind, when one 
day David spoke and took away my breath. He said, 
" Let us prove how far this cloud extends, and find 
out whether there is any accessible part of the island 
not covered by it." 

This proposal from him startled me, and the idea which 
had so often floated idly through my brain, now for the 
first time assumed a practical shape. It gave speech 
to silent desires which I had been ashamed to utter. 

I could not calculate the risks, and therefore I was 
bold ; but now they were well considered, and the re- 

G 2 



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84 Six Months in Ascension. ch. vn. 

suit of sober thought agreed with my visionary 
longings. ** Let us explore, and move if need be.'' 
It was like the order to attack after the hateful inac- 
tion of a siege, and I was eager to be up and doing. 

It was now the 30th of July. The sun had set. 
The after-glow had faded away, and stars were shin- 
ing everywhere but just where they ought to shine. 
Green Mountain was, as usual, busy dispatching a 
train of cloud over Cross Hill, and right in the path 
of Mars. It was a typical night, and we determined 
to act ; but how ? David could not leave his post in 
Garrison, lest an opportimity for observations should 
occur, and, after the fatigue of a hot day's work, we 
could not ask any of our neighbours to give up the 
rest of the cool night for us. So I offered myself as 
pioneer, but my offer was at first rejected with some 
decision. ** Impossible ! You have never been beyond 
Garrison ; there is no road ; there may be dangerous 
gullies; and wild cats infest the plains — ^you would 
find the walking bad enough by day, and at night 
impossibleJ^ But having a considerable leaven of 
Luckie Mucklebackit's spirit in me, I meant to try 
hard for my own way; and after showing how carefully 
I had been studying the Admiralty chart — studying it 
till every crater and every watercourse seemed stamped 
upon my brain, the "impossibles" grew fainter till 
finally they disappeared. The chart was brought out> 
not for the first time, and I was proud to show off my 
knowledge. 

For some little way south of Garrison a winding 



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€11. VII. Exploring with a BulVs-Eye. 85 

road, or track, was indicated; then open plains of 
volcanic ashes; while beyond, and everywhere bordering 
the sea, rose up great lava rocks, or, as they are locally 
called, *' clinker/' Now the question seemed to be, 
does the cloud extend beyond the plain, or does it 
not? If it does, the case is hopeless, the general 
character of the "clinker" being, that it is inacces- 
sible to all but goats and adventurous donkeys. 

It was 9 P.M., and no time was to be lost. Hill was 
called upon for his knowledge of the way, and we found 
it nil, but he thought that Corporal B knew some- 
thing of it. 

" Then," said my husband, " ask Corporal B 

whether he will accompany Mrs. Gill in a walk towards 
South Point at 10 o'clock, and you will go too with rugs 
and a luncheon basket," Hill looked rather mystified, 
as weU he might; but the order was one after his 
own heart, and the old corporal showing a spirit not 
less adventurous, my guides were ready and waiting 
for me at the time appointed. My watch was carefully 
timed with the chronometers, and David and I arranged 
to make simultaneous observations of the clouds every 
half-hour till 3 a.m., when I promised to return. 

At 10 P.M. we started. My spirits were higher than 
they had been for many nights, but David looked 
anxious, and warned me again and again not to run 
into any danger. I reassured him with boasts of my 
knowledge of the chart and of the places of the stars^ 
Besides, in an hour the moon ought to rise, and in 
the tropics she is a brilliant lamp ; but in case of 



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86 Six Months in Ascension. ch. vn, 

the clouds thickening, we provided ourselves with a 
lanthorn and a bull's-eye, to serve in her stead. 

For the first mile I found the road very tiring — soft 
and yielding, and bestrewn with loose lumps of clinker ; 
moreover I had made the mistake of putting on low 
shoes. I chose them because they were thicker and 
stronger than any boots I had, not considering that 
the sand, or crushed cinder rather, would get inside 
and chafe my feet. Our next misfortune was the 
sudden rising of the wind, followed by the total eclipse 
of our lanthom. But, happily, we had our bull's-eye to 
fall back upon, and by this light " dimly burning*' we 
proceeded for the first half-hour. 

Now I observed that the cloud, instead of being 
entirely overhead, just reached our zenith and then 
dipped northward. This greatly encouraged me, and 
as my eye got more accustomed to the darkness, I was 
better able to choose the best of the bad way. It 
was still very dark — ^the wind rose higher — ^the moon 
gave no notice of her coming, and the weird ghostli- 
ness of the little bit of surroxmding that fell under 
the light of the bull's-eye, I shall never forget. A sort 
of awe, not unpleasant, but the reverse, was stealing 
over me, and I felt just in the mood for an adventure ; 
when, lo ! close to my ear, a shrill uncanny shriek rang 
out through the stillness. The corporal flashed the 
bull's-eye in the direction of the soxmd and disclosed 
a dim, moving object, undistinguishable in shape or 
colour. Then I thought of cats — of bullocks turned 
carnivorous in their hunger, and my heart grew cold* 



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cii. VII. yimmy Ducks. 87 



" It*s Jimmy Ducks/' said the corporal, in a tone 
of recognition, 

" Who is Jimmy Ducks, and what is the matter with 
him ? " I asked, trying not to shiver. 

" Oh, ma'am, Jimmy Ducks is an old mule, blind 
of an eye. He has been turned out on the clinker to 
pick up his living, and he is frightened at our light." 

Oh dear ! how very small I felt ! Don Quixote and 
his windmill were not more absurd than Jimmy Ducks 
and my silly self; and so disgusted did I feel with my 
cowardice, that I almost forgot to note the cloud. 

For some little way the road had been tending more 
to east than south, so that we were not advancing 
much, but only getting nearer to Green Mountain, 
over which the moon was now struggling with a heavy 
cloud ; not succeeding in piercing it, but just throwing 
out its awful shades. I never saw such a cloud, and 
ceased to wonder at the width of its skirts. But now 
we were not covered by it as at Garrison ; our east 
horizon was indeed entirely obscured, as it had been 
during the previous half hour, but the south expanse 
of sky was larger, and I felt all the excitement of 
running a race with my enemy. 

There was no longer any road, and walking was easier. 
This may sound contradictory, but we certainly got along 
the hard weather-beaten plain at a much greater speed 
than we had done on the heavy road, loosened by traffic 
to South-west Bay, whence lime and turtle are occasion- 
ally brought by cart to Garrison. Because of the road 
winding so much to eastward, we had lost sight of the 



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88 Six Months in Ascension. ch. vh. 

sea some time before getting upon the plain, and now 
that no path marked the way, the buirs-eye, borne in 
advance by the corporal, began to waver, and so did 
my confidence. We were losing our bearings, and I 
thought it wise to turn at once due west to catch sight 
of the sea again. Then we followed the line of coast 
southward till, suddenly, the clinker rose up and 
stopped the way. 

It was now midnight. Mars had about 30 deg. alti- 
tude, and just skirted the cloud which covered the 
north and north-east, leaving the other parts of the 
sky briUiantly bright. Near him shone Saturn, a 
glorious contrast in colour, and Jupiter blazed over 
head as I spread my rug on the clinker, and tried b}' 
looking hard to make "the darkness visible." The 
moon was still struggling with the cloud and gave out 
a fitful light, just sufficient to show the utter barren- 
ness and desolation around me. Here and there to 
eastward, small craters were tossed over the plain. 
It was too dark to distinguish their colour or form 
perfectly, but they all appeared dingy, and of a 
uniform conical shape. Behind us lay an uninter- 
rupted flat called " Waterloo Plains," and in front 
rough, needle-like masses of clinker pointed their 
spires skyward. These continued southward as far as 
I could see, and down to the shore as well, for I 
walked, or rather scrambled, in that direction, to try 
whether I could find any path leading farther south ; 
and I convinced myself that f Aere, there was no break 
in the rocky wall. To eastward I thought there might 



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CH. VII. Chasing a Cloud. 89 

foe ; but as the night was still dark, I feared to miss my 
way and make my husband anxious by being late. So 
I sat down on the clinker and had a glass of water and 
-a biscuit, while my guides retired for their refreshment 
and a smoke. 

I wonder what they talked of, and if they thought 
of me as a mad woman chasing a cloud by moonlight ! 
Doubtless they did. But absurd and aimless as my 
chase appeared, the object I pursued was a glorious 
one ; and, during the hour I sat on the Ascension plain 
and watched the clouds, I felt as if it were within my 
grasp. That is to say, I became convinced that this 
cloud was partial, that it formed in the east over 
Green Mountain and took a direction almost due west 
towards the sea. I had now succeeded in getting 
alongside of it, and I was nearly certain that all would 
yet be well if there was any accessible way farther 
isouth. 

Before starting on om' return journey, I got the men 
to make a cairn of clinker, which we topped by a 
foottle with a bit of red cotton tied to it, so that David 
might see where we had been stopped, should he 
decide to come and explore for himself. 

The homeward road seemed very long, now that the 
excitement of inquiry was over ; and though I did not 
feel tired, my feet ached with the sand and small stones 
that kept getting into my shoes. I was truly glad 
when, after five hours' absence, I met my husband 
looking out for me about half a mile from Garrison. 
He seemed relieved that I had returned in safety ; but 



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90 Six Months in Ascensio7t. ch. vn. 

congratulations were cut short by his anxiety for my 
report, and I was equally anxious for his, for I could 
not really know whether my expedition had done any 
good till we had compared notes. 

This we did the moment we got inside Commodore's 
Cottage, and with the result of convincing David that 
the cloud was systematic. This determined him to 
move the Observatory to the extreme south of the 
island at all hazards, providing Captain PhiUimore's 
consent could be obtained. 

I was almost frightened at his decision, and, coward- 
like, looked back after having put my hand to the plough. 
For the first time difficulties presented themselves to 
my mind in such legion that I could scarcely think. 
I remembered how we had been told at first that Garri- 
son was the only habitable part of the island, except 
the cloud-capped mountain. I remembered the ruts 
and the rocks, and thought of the HeHometer. I re- 
membered the want of water, the absence of all local 
habitation under a tropical sun ; and had it not been 
for very shame, / should now have cried out " Impos- 
sible." But I kept silence and looked on. 

My husband had already spoken to Captain Phillimore 
about the advisability of some change, and the morning 
after my excursion, or rather the same morning, at 
7 A.M. they set out in the strong cart to look for my 
cairn, and to try and penetrate south of it. 

In some hours they returned with the news that 
my landmark had been discovered about four miles 
south, and that it showed our " track '' to have been. 



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cH. VII. South Point. 91 

as I imagined, too close to the shore. More to east- 
ward the plain ran farther south, and they were able 
to drive between two little hills (Saddle Crater and 
Bound Hill), both of which, it seems, I had kept ta 
landward. At this point the clinker showed ominously 
ahead, so they tied the horse to a big stone and 
climbed the shoulder of Gannet Hill, now immediately 
on their left, in order to reconnoitre. Nothing but 
clinker to be seen ; and that too of such formidable 
character as to form an apparently insurmountable 
barrier to the passage of the Heliometer. 

An iron-bound coast indeed ; and on the south it 
stretched into a narrow promontory (South Point) 
bristling with clinker, erect and sharp as the quills on a 
porcupine's back. On the lee (or north-west) shore 
of South Point, there nestled a little bay ; and running 
into it from the plain was an empty watercourse, which 
seemed, with its more rounded stones, to aflford some 
possibility of reaching the sea. A rough and rugged 
road it proved, however, when Captain Phillimore and 
my husband tried it ; and certainly not available for 
the transport of heavy and delicate instruments. Oh ! 
for an hour of Prince Houssain's magic carpet, to- 
bear the Observatory through the air ! for here is the 
very place for it, high upon the rocks above this little 
bay. Green Mountain and its clouds well to north- 
ward, nothing but this strip of barren rock to the 
south, and Mars can be seen to set, and almost to rise,, 
over the sea. Here there can be no systematic cloud, 
only what the trade-wind brings, and we could fare 



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92 Six Mo7tths in Ascension, ch. vn. 

no better even by getting into the sea. It was very 
tempting, and the explorers looked at land and sea, 
and at sea and land. Both routes seemed dangerous 
— the land route indeed impossible, while the surf and 
rollers which beset the Ascension coast gave little 
hope of the sea. No landing had ever been made 
at this bay, but as there was a tiny bit of sandy beach. 
Captain Phillimore thought it might be attempted, 
should my husband make up his mind to run the 
risk. 

Such was the exciting news brought home to me ; 
and the multitude of qiiestions, fears, and anxieties it 
stirred up in my brain made me feel quite giddy, and 
very thankful that I was not called upon to decide. 

Oh ! the sickening responsibility of making up one's 
mind, and choosing between two evils. I had no 
word to say, and could only share the weight of 
anxiety without being able to lighten it. Either way 
looked gloomy. On the one hand, my husband felt — 
^* If I stay here and fail, I shall have failed also in my 
duty, not having done my utmost. On the other 
hand, every night is now of importance, and a week 
is lost certainly if I pull down the Observatory, while 
the slightest accident to an instrument here, with no 
one to repair it, will be fatal to the expedition." 

Yes ! both " ifs '*. were unpleasant, but the first was 
intolerable, and after a day of anxious thought, David 
made up his mind that an attempt to reach South 
Point must be made. After coming to this decision, 
our great aim of course was to carry it out with as little 



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cH. VII. Preparations to Move. 93 

delay as possible, and to this end Captain Phillimore 
kindly promised every assistance in his power. Water 
should be condensed for us at once ; tents, lime, bricks, 
cement, coals, cooking-stove, &c., looked out from the 
naval stores, and a party of marines should accompany 
the goods to South Point and see everything in order 
before returning to Garrison. 

Without knowing the limited resources of the 
island, and the amount of regular work to be gone 
through every day, one cannot realise the exceeding 
energy and good will embodied in this offer. I always 
feel a lump rise in my throat when I look back upon 
this time, and remember how difficulties were removed 
from our path, not only by Captain Phillimore, but by 
every officer under him, as well as by the officers 
of the ships then in harbour. Indeed, our kind 
friend Captain Hammick of the Cygnet levelled the 
last mountain by offering to send his Kroomen to carry 
the Heliometer-tube and the more delicate instruments 
over the clinker by hand. 

It was on the 31st of July that the important deci- 
sion was made, and, strange to say, that same night in 
Garrison, my husband was able to make his first com- 
plete determination of the parallax of Mars. The sky 
was cloudless from sun-set to sun-rise, and I wavered, 
wondering, as many others did, whether the new hope 
would shake the new decision ; but when I questioned, 
the answer was, ** The man that hesitates is lost." 



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CHAPTER VIII. 

CHANGE AND CHECK. 

Rooted up. — A strange procession. — ** Sister Anne ! Sister Anne ! do 
you see anybody coming?'* — Groodnews. — Mars Bay. — The Helio- 
meter and the Kroomen. — ^AU's well that ends well. — A solitary 
palm. — My first sight of Mars Bay. — Clinker flooring. — Roller 
fever. — At work again. —Sam and Fetish. — My second coming to 
Mars Bay. 

At daybreak on the 1st of August, David was hard 
at work with the men, dismantling the snug little Ob- 
servatory. Again the «ound of tools was heard out- 
side Commodore's Cottage, but not, it seemed to me, 
with the same pleasant ring, and I longed to run away 
somewhere beyond the noise. However, I had fortu- 
nately little time to indulge in fancies. Camp gear, 
stores, earthenware, glass, kitchen utensils, everything 
must be packed before 3 p.m., and stowed on board 
the steam-launch in readiness to sail at 6 o'clock the 
following morning. 

I often wonder how we got it done. I think it must 
have been, not only by the zealous assistance of officers 
and men, but by the stimulus we ourselves received 
from the invigorating atmosphere of sympathy and 
good will which surrounded us. At all events, before 
sunset, Commodore's Cottage was ruthlessly plundered 



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CH. VIII. '' U^ider-Weighr 95 

of such of its contents as would fit our camp, and the 
croquet ground again stood empty as we had found it. 
I felt ** rooted up " and miserable ; but without a doubt 
that we were on the right way. So, to cover my 
nervousness and restlessness, I went to bed. 

Next morning, as the sun rose, a rare procession 
passed down the coast. A steam-launch, with Captain 
Phillimore and David on board, towed along two well- 
laden lighters and a sailing pinnace, and carried, more- 
over, quite a tail of little surf-boats, or ^* dingeys." 
The busy trade-wind had sunk almost into a dead calm, 
the sea seemed still asleep, everything was in favour 
of an easy landing, and I felt hopeful, though anxiety 
made the hours seem long while I waited for news. I 
could neither read nor write, nor did idle musing soothe 
me, so I made believe to mend a pair of gloves, and 
ever after, when I wore them, I was wont to trace the 
anxious thoughts sewn in with every stitch. I take 
some pride in glove mending, but this pair shows many 
weak stitches, and sad botching, just where I threw 
them down in disgust, and,» bidding patience good-bye, 
put on my hat and walked into the noon-day sun. 

" Sister Anne ! Sister Anne ! do you see anybody 
tjoming ? " " No ! '' That movement far oflf among the 
clinker is only the rising of the heated air, trembling 
over the burning stones. That grating sound is not 
of wheels, nor is it the crack of a distant whip. It 
is only the morning gossip among these chattering 
grasshoppers. But at last, and sooner than I had 
any right to expect it, there was really the sound of 



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96 Six Months in Ascension. m. vm. 

wheels, and good news was brought to me. Every- 
thing had been landed without a scratch, the founda- 
tion of the Heliometer House was already laid, and 
the new harbour thus established, had been christened 
by Captain Phillimore " Mars Bay." 

On the following morning another procession wended 
its way from Garrison to Mars Bay — ^this time by 
land. It consisted of sixteen Kroomen, bearing the 
Heliometer-tube, Transit and other instruments. The 
Heliometer box was lashed to a mast and set out on 
its perilous journey, borne on the shoulders of eight 
Kroomen — ^four in front and four behind. The other 
eight carried the lighter boxes and acted as a reserve. 
Strong stalwart fellows they were, looking like so many 
pillars sculptured in black marble ; and we saw them 
start with something like confidence. 

Soon my husband followed in the vehicle (which by 
this time I had discovered it was legitimate to call a 
cart), but what was his horror, on overtaking the pro- 
cession, to find that these faithless bearers had unswung 
the box, and were coolly carrying it on their heads. 
This mode of transport looked most unsafe, and he 
remonstrated, but to no purpose. ^* Krooboy must 
carry thing" on him head— he no can carry with pole- 
get tired." And so the trembling astronomer was fain 
to be content for the first part of the way, but when 
the plain was past and the clinker appeared, his 
patience gave way ; he could bear it no longer. The 
box was accordingly lashed to the mast again, amid 
some grumbling at first, but it soon passed off, and a 



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CH. VIII. The New Observatory, 97 

few kind words made the shining black faces as genial 
as ever. Then, with slow and careful steps, and with 
much laughing and chattering, the precious thing was 
borne, over the rocks in safety, and when at last Mars 
Biay was reached, its tired guardian sighed out in his 
relief, " All's well that ends well.'' 

Two busy days followed. On the third all the labour 
of construction was over, and our marines were able to 
enjoy their Saturday half-holiday in Garrison. 

Only three days to pull down, transport, and rererect 
an Observatory, in the face of every difficulty that land 
and water could offer ! The seemingly impossible had 
been accomplished, and yet no observing weather had 
been lost ;. for during the three nights that the Helio- 
meter had lain in its case the sky had been cloudy at 
Garrison ; while, still further to increase our satisfac- 
tion, the men at Mars Bay reported clear skies at the 
New Station. 

David had meantime taken up his abode at the new 
Observatory, but as yet I had seen nothing of it ; so, 
when Captain Phillimore kindly invited me to drive 
there with him this Saturday afternoon, I gladly 
accepted his invitation. I was burning with curiosity, 
and, as David intended to spend Sunday in the wilder- 
ness, I was anxious to see what comfort he could have. 
Little enough, I knew ; but with the comfort of clear 
skies he would not much miss any other comfort. 

It was a dazzling, dusty afternoon, and the sun was 
yet shining in full strength when we left Garrison for 
Mars Bay. I now saw by the light of day the road I 



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98 Six Months in Ascension, ch. vm, 

had followed on the night of my expedition, and I 
thought the darkness had covered much that might 
have cooled my courage. It was an ugly road, and 
yet well-favoured compared to what was to follow. 

One object along our route I must mention, for it 
struck me pleasurably with a sense of freshness after 
a month's residence on Ascension. Actually a tree ! 
A single palm stood erect in solitary dignity on a 
rocky ridge by the sea, and its grand outline was bold 
against the sky. A type, it seemed, of life in the 
midst of death, and the sight of this monarch of the 
East reigning alone, here on the parched desert, with- 
out a peer, without a subject even, filled me with 
wonder and pity. I wondered how he had sprung 
into life on this barren shore, and I pitied him, as 
Moore pities the "Last Eose of Summer." Truly 
this old palm^was left blooming alone, and no future 
summer was likely to give new life to his dead com- 
panions. 

No other sign of vegetation was to be seen along 
this road of ruts, but I espied, as an object of interest, 
the cairn of clinker which marked the termination of 
my voyage of discovery, and it showed plainly that, by 
keeping too close to the sea, I had run into the clinker 
sooner than I need have done. Captain PhilKmore 
directed our com-se slightly eastward, and, amid a 
blinding shower of yellow dust, we drove between 
Saddle Crater and Round Hill, two red cinder heaps^ 
each about 150 feet high. We then tied the horse to 
the first outUer of clinker and proceeded on foot. But 



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Mars Bay. 99 



instead of following the winding watercourse, where 
precipitous masses of clinker cut off every hreath of 
wind, we took a short cut across the rocks, which, like 
most short cuts, proved to be longer than the orthodox 
way. After a mile (I thought it was three) of climbing, 
leaping, stumbling, scrambling, I reached the Obser- 
vatory, hot and breathless, with torn shoes and skirts, 
and a considerably ruffled temper. 

We found David, who was surprised to see us, 
adjusting his Heliometer, and he hoped to have it 
ready for use that night. This was cheering so far, 
but the surroundings were the reverse. I am at a 
loss how to convey to anyone who has not seen it, an 
idea of what sort of flooring clinker makes. Imagine 
the neighbourhood of a great iron foundry strewn with 
the accumulated slag of years — some of it in rough 
compact masses of various sizes — some reduced by the 
action of time into a fine powder, ready to be stirred 
into a cloud with every breath of wind. 

Such was the ground-work upon which one had to 
make things comfortable at Mars Bay, and I felt very 
miserable to think that my husband must spend Sun- 
day in such a place, without even the consolation of a 
companion to share his discomfort. However, he did 
not consider companionship a consolation under the 
circumstances, and would not allow me to stay with 
him, much as I wished it. So I seized upon Sam, to 
help me to do what little could be done to straighten 
matters in the short time that Captain Phillimore 
could remain. 

u 2 



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lOo Six Months in Ascension. ch. vm. 

There was no hope of improving the condition of 
the tents, floorless and curtainless as they were. The 
bed, chairs, boxes, &c., inclined at all angles among 
the rocks, in vain attempts to reach their proper level ; 
and it seemed to me that the less unpacking done, the 
better for the goods and chattels, because of the fine 
dust which settled thick upon everything. So, after Sam 
had swept out the Transit Hut (which had a wooden 
flooring) with the stiff straw case of a claret bottle, we 
decided that here the bedroom must be, notwithstand- 
ing an unsightly brick pillar in the centre, newly built 
and smelling of mortar. It made by no means a dainty 
bower when our best was done, but the intending 
occupant was charmed with it. 

After many injunctions to Sam, who was as yet the 
only member of the household staff here, I had to 
return to my drawing-room in Garrison, feeling like a 
Dresden China figure, and content myself with the 
promise that I should be allowed to come and take up 
my permanent abode at Mars Bay when the tents were 
floored and properly pegged to the ground. 

I spent a too comfortable Sunday at Commodore's 
Cottage, and was not lonely, thanks to the kindness of 
my neighbours; but I had many anxious thoughts 
about the success of the new settlement. I feared lest 
in escaping one trouble we had fallen upon a worse — ^I 
doubted whether our health would bear this gipsy life 
under such a sun, and I felt how useless cloudless 
skies would be to a sick astronomer. 

On Monday morning .David came to breakfast with 



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OH. viir. Domestic Woes. - ^ _ . . IQJ .. 

. " } \ "h ! ^"^^ ^-^ '"' 

me at Commodore's Cottage, brihgiij]^ qgood""ji^w§! off j 
the skies, but a miserable tale of dbliiesfic' experiences'. 
He was ill, I could see, but perhaps only from fatigue ; 
for he had worked almost uninterruptedly for three 
days and three nights, and, instead of being able to 
rest during Sunday, he had suffered from a plague of 
flies, which left him not a moment's peace. His food 
was so plentifully seasoned with clinker dust, that he 
could hardly touch it ; and the condensed water, from 
standing in the sun, tasted flat and unrefreshing. An 
old sprain in the knee too, felt hot and uncomfort- 
able ; and all this made him fear that, consistent with 
health, life at Mars Bay was impossible. Eather than 
risk it, he would undergo the fatigue of a journey 
across the clinker every day, so as to have the comfort 
of a flyless rest and a dustless meal in Garrison. 

On hearing of this dismal state of things. Captain 
Phillimore, with his usual kindness, gave orders that 
one of the donkeys, which were loose on the clinker, 
should be caught for my husband's use, and undertook 
in the meantime to drive him to and from his work, as 
far as the horse and cart could go. This again made 
things smooth, and I confess to having felt an intense 
relief in the prospect of remaining in the cottage. Not 
that I feared the discomfort of the tents, but I feared 
the sun, the water, and my cook. Hill had worn the- 
expression of a martyr ever since this move was con- 
templated, and, having undertaken the journey on foot 
once, vowed flatly that he would never do it again. I 
had seen rebellion armed to the teeth, and desertion 



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.,, X02 Six JHontks in Ascension, ch. vm. 

! : jdi3j^»tiernitig ]yi^*th'e VJistance, so I felt helped out of a 

* '*dfficulV;aAa'**tta^^^^ my stars." 

* But my stars were not long propitious. On Tues- 
day morning, when the cart from Mars Bay came in 
sight, there was no David, only Graydon in his place. 
I felt cold and sick, for I knew well what had hap- 
pened hefore I heard the miserable words, "Mr. Gill 
is very unwell, ma'am, and his knee is bad." A pencil 
note told me that he was only very much exhausted, 
and would come round with the turtle boat in the 
evening for a few days' rest, as he did not feel able for 
work. But the idea of his remaining in that wretched 
place till evening was intolerable to me, especially as 
my cross-examination of Graydon brought out the fact 
that during the night he had fallen off his observing 
chair, from giddiness and faintness. 

In my distress, I went to ask the doctor to drive out 
with me at once ; but he proposed, as a better plan, to 
send one of his assistants alone, assuring me, that 
some carpenters, at work at Mars Bay that day, would 
carry my husband across the clinker without delay, 
and he could be brought back in the cart much more 
comfortably if I remained behind. I knew he was 
right, yet it was a struggle to give in, and I don't 
think I ever spent a more anxious morning. I was 
full of self-reproach. Ejiowing well my husband's zeal 
and utter disregard of his health when work was to be 
done, I had not urged him to rest. I began to see 
that over-anxiety about the " Opposition of Mars " 
iad blinded us both, and for me there was the less 



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OH. viir. The Astronomer Sick. 103 

excuse, as I ought to have been attending to more 
sublunary matters, I also bitterly regretted having 
been persuaded to stay in Garrison during Sunday, 
Tvhile David was being deprived of the rest he so much 
needed, from causes that I could, in some measure at 
least, have obviated, had I been with him. 

It was indeed a miserable morning. The workman 
sick from over- work, and the work yet to be done ! 
With this load on his mind I feared recovery would be 
slow, and I felt mentally and physically unfit to nurse 
him. Sympathy has its disadvantages, and too much 
of it between nurse and patient I hold to be a mis- 
fortune. However, I did my best to be cheerful when 
my husband at last arrived, and tried not to show how 
much I feared that his illness at this critical time 
would be fatal to the success of the work. The doctor's 
visit was a great relief. On examination, the aching 
knee was found to be swollen and inflamed, but not 
dislocated as I had feared ; and the sickness was 
pronounced to be a slight local fever called "The 
KoUers,^' brought on, in this case, by over-fatigue and 
exposure to the sun. The news that a few days of 
perfect rest was all that was required gave me good 
heart, and everybody's kindness helped us through 
these dreary days, when, for the first time we re- 
joiced in cloudy nights, and there is little doubt 
that they contributed much to my patient's speedy 
recovery. 

On the fourth day he was fit for work, and only one 
clear night had been lost. But the continued lame- 



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I04 Six Months in Ascension. ch. vm. 

ness obliged us to abandon the idea of his making the 
daily journey to and from the work, and we now saw 
that it would be necessary to live at Mars Bay, at least 
for a time. 

Consequently, on the 10th of August, David, ac- 
companied by Hill and Graydon, set sail once more 
for Mars Bay, and this time he took with him such 
things as his short, but unfortimate, experience had 
taught him were necessaries of life on the clinker. A 
supply of mosquito net and a water-filter he had found 
to be essential ; and fortunately the canteen was able 
to famish the former, and the hospital the latter. 

It so happened that I was not able to leave Garrison 
that day, so I retained Sam as watch-dog, hoping he 
would give me the protection of his presence in the 
deserted Commodore's Cottage. " Oh yes, me take 
care of you, ma," said Sam, boldly; but alas! his 
courage sank with the sun, and, when darkness came 
on, he begged to be allowed to go to Krootown (as the 
Kroo quarters are called), because, "me 'fraid Fetish, 
ma," and so my valiant guard fled with all the speed a 
pair of bare heels was capable of; leaving me all night 
to the tender mercies of " Fetish." I remained un- 
disturbed, however, and next morning we journeyed 
along the rough road that I had climbed before, to join 
the rest of the household ; but instead of Faith and 
Hope, I had, this time, Fear and Trembling for 
travelling companions. 



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CHAPTEE IX. 

MARS BAY. 

A gloomy Home-coming. — A wet Sunday.— Our tents.— ** Sam again.'" 
— Mail-day. — Setting the House in order. — "Hard-backs." — 
Watchful Nights and Weary Days.^— Sam versics Graydon, — 
Scarcity of Water.— Good Samaritans. — An Eclipse of the Moon. 
— Our Cooking- tent by Night.— Guests at Mars Bay. 

It was a gloomy home-coming. I was tired and 
cross, and the skies were angry too. Clouds were 
thicker and heavier than I had ever seen them in Gar- 
rison ; and not even the news of a complete measure- 
ment of Mars on the previous night, could remove the 
heavy weight of fog that had settled on me and Mars 
Bay. My bright vision of a land where skies were 
always blue was bidding me farewell, and the parting 
was giievous. To be sure the tents were much im- 
proved since my former visit, and altogether there was 
now a good foundation on which to build comfort ; but 
I looked at everything through the fog, having, unfor- 
tunately, lost my couleur-de-rose spectacles for the 
time, and I felt that I should not find them until I had 
seen Mars. 

No observations were possible that night, and next 
day — Sunday, it rained heavily. This was the first wet 



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io6 Six Months in Asce7tsion. ch. ix. 

day we had experienced in Ascension, and the first we 
had ever spent under canvas. Our tent doors of course 
faced windward, and a tepid shower-bath roused us 
early in the morning. 

The bedroom-tent was now floored with undressed 
planks. The ropes were well secured to the ground 
by iron pegs, driven into the clinker, the usual wooden 
pegs having no hold here. An ample mosquito net 
protected the bed ; and a military chest of drawers, an 
iron wash-stand, a bath, and a couple of wicker chairs 
completed the furnishing. Not quite, by-the- bye. I 
have forgotten to mention the little foot-square mirror, 
set in the remnants of a mahogany frame, and the 
glass of which was certainly not an optical plane* 
This exasperating piece of furniture was hung on the 
tent pole, rather high for my convenience; and what 
with having to keep out of the rain, and stand a-tiptoe 
to catch an occasional glimpse of a distorted image, 
who shall blame me if my toilet this morning was 
somewhat awry ? 

A walk of thirty yards over the rocks and under an 
umbrella, brought me to the dining-room in search of , 

breakfast. The last time I was here, a large imcur- l 

tained marquee did duty for salle-^-manger, but now a 
bell-tent had been pitched beneath it, forming a double 
tent with a veralidah between the inner and outer 
tents, and protecting us on this wet Sunday from the 
rain, as it did from the sun on many hot days to come. 
Here there were no planks to walk upon ; only con- 
crete, not yet dry, and coming off sticky on my skirts. 



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CH. IX. A Wet Day. 107 

Breakfast was laid on a deal table covered by a very 
damp tablecloth, and there was a sort of chilliness, 
even in the heat, which made the cooking-tent the 
pleasantest part of the establishment this morning. It 
also had a concrete floor, which the heat of the little 
stove had somewhat hardened and made pleasant to 
walk upon. 

Sam had spent the night curled up in a packing- 
box, very close to the stove, poor fellow! Hill also 
had slept near the scene of his future labours,, and 
Oraydon's hammock swung in the Heliometer House. 
Eather to my surprise, and very much to my relief, I 
found the men contented and cheerful. All Hill's in- 
cipient rebellion had disappeared, and he was now busy 
preparing breakfast with his usual skill and deftness. 

Let those who find long wet Sundays depressing in 
Scotland, pity us on this wet Sunday in Ascension, with 
no cosy chimney nook to take refuge in, and with all 
the restlessness of disappointment and expectation 
upon us. Lava rocks may be more comfortable to walk 
upon under leaden skies, and tents cooler when rain- 
soaked, but the sun does much to lessen the loneli- 
ness of barren nature, and I think one never feels so 
utterly and so miserably shut out from the warmth 
and geniality of the world, as when a crawling mist 
draws itself slowly round the horizon — narrowing, ever 
narrowing, till you seem to feel it creep into your flesh, 
and stifle you with its heavy breath. To-day it was 
the world of Mars that we grieved most at being shut 
out from; nevertheless we rejoiced that since cloud 



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io8 Six Months in Ascension. ch. ml. 

and mist did come, they brought rain with them, and 
we hoped soon to hear of a rise in the water- tanks. 

In the evening my husband read prayers to om* 
Kttle household in the Heliometer House. By this 
time the rain had ceased, but the mist still hung low 
in the east, and the setting sun, now free from cloud, 
threw a strong red light on the lava rocks immediately 
aroimd, bringing out their rugged lines in sharp con- 
trast to the distant mist-covered mountain. The sea 
dashed against the land at our feet with a surly growl,, 
and dark-winged birds whirled overhead, uttering 
shrill cries. Altogether it was a melancholy, chilling 
scene, and made one, without knowing why, think 
longingly and lovingly of home, with its bright fire- 
sides, and restful church-going Sundays. 

Do what I would to keep my thoughts from wander- 
ing, a certain little Scotch strath would rise up before 
my eyes, blotting out with its gentle loveliness the 
wild, lonely, lava hills around us. I was no longer in 
a canvas-covered tent, but surrounded by our dear 
ones at home, in an old grey church, standing in its 
quiet God's acre. The mental journey was very plea- 
sant, and I fear my wandering thoughts were brought 
back to reality not by any effort of their own. 

A check was given to their wool-gathering by a rapid 
movement of Sam's right foot in a hasty attempt ta 
crush some offending or unoffending insect, that had 
incautiously come under his notice. The intent was 
arrested, however, by a severe glance from Hill, and 
Sam relapsed into solemnit}^ 



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CH. IX. Preparing for the Mail. 109 

Poor Sam ! I ever look back on him as a cheerful 
element in our Ascension life. His oddities and droll 
sayings furnished us with continual amusement ; and 
when we heard peals of laughter issuing from the 
kitchen-tent in the quiet evenings, we used to say to 
ourselves, " Sam again." 

Most unexpectedly the siy cleared after sunset on 
Sunday evening, and a good set of observations was 
obtained ; so the night was brighter to us than the day 
had been, in every sense of the word. 

On Monday a crushing sense of neglected corres- 
pondence came upon us, and we could no longer yield 
to procrastination. As yet, no English mail had gone 
from, or come to Ascension since our arrival, nearly 
five weeks ago. Indeed, we had brought the last news 
from England with us on the 15th of June ; but now 
the August mail day was imminent, and I had made 
no preparation as to letters. Not one had I written, 
less from want of time than from want of will ; for, 
though not exactly like an American lady of my ac- 
quaintance, who only writes when she is in good 
spirits, I was loth to send letters full of uncertainty 
and worry to friends at home, who, I knew, would 
open them full of anxiety for good news. I could 
not bear to disappoint them, so I put off writing 
in the hope of being able to write more cheerfully, 
and thus I overburdened the last days before the mail. 

I rather think too, that David had got into a like 
mess with his correspondence. At aU events, pens, ink, 
and paper were in great request with us for three long, 



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no St:x^ Months in Ascension. 



hot — very hot afternoons ; and much as I longed for 
the mail to bring us English news, I was somewhat 
lazy to give it our Ascension news in return. How- 
ever, we wrote busily, and on Wednesday the 15th, our 
letter-bag went off with a report to the Astronomical 
Society of four complete determinations of the Parallax 
of Mars. Not by any means such a favourable account 
of our work as we should have liked to send, but better 
than at one time we had dared to hope for ; and now 
that the best in our power had been done, we were 
more patient to wait for the future, and almost satisfied 
with the present. 

On the morning after our letters had been dispatched, 
David was busy with hammer and saw, making me a 
work-table out of some odds and ends of undressed 
planks, and I was toiling, hot and awkward, *' getting 
up " the first week's wash, when HiU interrupted our 
labours with the welcome news, " Please, sir, the mail.*' 
Down went hammer and saw ; down went the flat-iron 
and burned a hole in my pet collar. 

Those imhappy people, who have the misfortune to 
hear the postman's daily knock, will not be able to 
realise the intense excitement and delight of mail-day 
after a newsless lapse of two months. It was really 
worth waiting for ; ever}'^ little item had gathered inte- 
rest from every salt wave it had crossed, and each 
home name had won a sweeter tone from each hour of 
silence. How often I read these letters I know not, 
nor should I like to tell how much time I devoted to 
the perusal of the newspapers. 



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Colonizing. 1 1 1 



All the male population was aglow for war news, 
and I tried to be interested, but could feel little sym- 
pathy with Turk or Eussian, while the tales told of 
both were so horrible, that I sickened as I read, and 
felt thankful that the din of battle came across the sea 
to us with a muffled soimd. 

After the excitement of mail-day was over, I set 
about putting my house in order in right good earnest, 
having been able hitherto to do so only by snatches. 
Outside, great improvement had already been made by 
our servants and a party of Kroomen. The difficulty of 
getting from one tent to another over loose clinker 
stones was at first very great, and my shoes were sadly 
cut and torn in the process. But now, Hill and 
Graydon had removed many of these stones and estab- 
lished a branch system of little paths running from 
door to door, which the Kroomen filled up with beauti- 
ful white sand from the beach. The benefits of this 
work were manifold. It saved shoes and feet, showed 
a safe path at night, and, best of all, laid the dust to 
some extent; for what I have called sand is not really so, 
but minute fragments of shells and other disintegrated 
marine matter, worn very fine by the action of the 
waves, and too heavy to be stirred by the wind ; hence 
the advantage of burying our dust in it. 

Outside our bell dining-tent, and within the shade 
of the larger marquee, I had the vacant space covered 
with this sand, and, when bordered on either side by 
pretty pink and white shells, it made quite a grotto- 
like verandah. Here too, we swung our hammock — a 



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112 Six Months in Ascension, en. ix. 

thoughtful gift from the officers of the Cygnet — and, t^fter 
having learned the art of getting into and out of it with- 
out disaster, this nest became to me the happy scene 
of — shall 1 confess it ? I am afraid ; for it is almost 
as great a crime in the eyes of our lords and masters 
(except when they indulge in it themselves), as *^ five 
o'clock tea," and it is almost as tempting and bewitch- 
ing. Have you ever tried in the tropics, O aesthetic 
friend, an afternoon siesta ? 

With this sand-covered verandah for protection, I 
now ventured to get out books, cushions, chintz table- 
covers, and other signs of civilization, and, when the 
concrete floor '^set,'* our verdict on the dining-room at 
Mars Bay was, '^ Why ! it is the nicest, coolest little 
resting nook in the world, and we mean to be very 
happy in it." 

A white sanded path now led to the kitchen, which 
stood to the north of the dining-tent, and sufficiently 
near for Hill to hear me clap my hands when I wished 
to call him. To south-east stood the Transit Hut ; 
on a rocky knoll a little farther in the same direction, 
the Heliometer House, and just below it, our bed- 
room ; all within a radius of thirty yards. 

On pretty high ground, intersected with our smooth 
white paths, and placed as we were close to the sea, 
our encampment must have been an object of some 
interest and curiosity to passing ships. No one else 
saw us except the wild goats and donkeys looking 
down from Green Mountain. It was pleasant work im- 
proving our little kingdom, although I knew we never 



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Slaughter of Enemies. 113 



could make it look very pretty; still it grew in com- 
fort if not in beauty, and we soon ceased to regret 
Garrison. 

The first thing, that conduced greatly to our com- 
fort, was a wholesale slaughter of insects with carbolic 
acid. Not that we, by any means, extirpated them, for 
the ugly little " hardbacks " still dropped from the tent 
roof upon our heads and crawled over cups and plates 
unharmed and defiant of us ; but they were quite 
harmless, and we had no stinging pests. I did not see 
more than half-a-dozen musquitoes during the whole 
time we stayed here — ^thanks to the drought ; and the 
numerous many-legged creatures that we called centi- 
pedes did not bite like members of the real family — 
of tlieze only one was ever encountered, and that was 
before my arrival. Wherever they found a quiet 
shelter flies did much abound; but the Heliometer 
House, standing high and full in the wind, was compa- 
ratively free from them ; so there we made our study, 
by day as well as by night, and if the skies had been 
less uncertain, we should now have been perfectly con- 
tented with our lot. 

But watchful nights made weary days, and it was 
hard work to keep energy and hope alive. My husband 
had the first watch each night ; then I took his place 
in the morning, to call him on the least appearance of 
blue sky ; and in this way I do not think that a single 
opportunity of observation was lost. It was really no 
hardship to be abroad during these lovely nights. The 
stillness of the earth charmed the soul into a priceless 



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1 14 Six Months in Ascension, ch. ix, 

peace, while " From the door of a tent the only splen- 
dour came from the mysterious, inaccessible stars.*' 
The cool air was delightful in its freshness, and I used 
to feel less sleepy here by night than when the fierce 
sun of noonday shone upon us with all his stupefying 
power. 

Properly speaking, Graydon was our night watch, 
and he did his best to keep awake, poor fellow ; but 
failure on one or two occasions weakened oui* faith- 
Sleep is a tyrant not to be conquered in every case by 
anxiety about the sim's parallax. 

Sam's great fear was, lest he should be told off for 
night duty, and Graydon, who was rather given to 
teazing him, used to threaten him with a watch some- 
times. But Sam began to see the joke, and fairly 
turned the tables upon his tormentor. " Well then I 
watch for Da-da, and you go Garrison to catch beef! " 
said Sam one day with a grin, knowing well a sailor's 
disrelish for a long land tramp. 

Indeed, not many would have liked Sam's walk three 
times a-week, across the clinker, to fetch our fresh 
meat and bread; no light load, for he brought the 
men s rations, and all sorts of little commissions be- 
sides. But Sam had no notion of such things as time, 
weight and distance. He got up with the sun, went 
to bed with the sun ; when the sun was hottest he ate 
his "pepper soup" and stale fish, and troubled himself 
about nought beside. 

Over and above Sam's trips to Garrison, our com- 
missariat was further supplied by a weekly boat. 



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CH. IX. Short of Water. 115 

Every Wednesday the " turtle boat " brought us water, 
canteen stores, &c. ; but we soon found that its punc- 
tual arrival must not be depended on, owing to the 
rollers which so often disturbed our little bay. On the 
second Wednesday of our stay no boat could land, and 
my first inquiry was with regard to the state of the water 
casks. " Only water to last till Saturday," Hill told 
me ; so I had to order all plate and glass washing, and 
all " swabbing out " to be done rigorously with salt 
water; the precious fresh fluid to be used only for 
drinking, and tJiat sparingly. 

I had no tea that afternoon, so I remember it as a 
Black Letter Day, for even Ascension tea is better than 
none. This supply of water had been condensed for 
us by the Cygnet^ and was tolerably good for all pur- 
poses except tea-making; but experience had taught 
me, that no condensed water ever succeeds in bringing^ 
out the subtle " bouquet " of the cheering cup. Hence, 
at Mars Bay, life was robbed of one of its choicest 
joys! Oh, for a Scotch mist! Oh, for a babbling 
brook or a "brimming river" to fill my tea-pot once 
again ! Thus I apostrophized the Fates, as I waited 
for the turtle boat with her water-casks. But the 
rollers continued, and she came not. 

Next day. Captain Phillimore paid us a visit by land, 
to ascertain how long our stores could hold out against 
the besieging rollers ; and he brought more than kind 
inquiries, for he carried some fresh meat for us across 
the clinker in case of our utmost need. Capt. Ham- 
mick, who accompanied him, brought me two gills of 

I2 



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ii6 Six Months in Ascension, ch. ix. 

.milk in a soda-water bottle. What a recherche luncheon 
we had, and how we blessed our Samaritan guests ! 
Another day, and again no boat, but we were well pro- 
visioned — ^there was still water to last twenty-four 
hours, and Captain Phillimore had promised to send 
a mule with a small cask of water on Saturday, if the 
rollers continued. 

Thus my mind was sufficiently tranquil to enjoy the 
beauty of the unquiet waters. Fearful and wonderful 
they looked; and, the more to increase the grandeur 
of the scene, that night there was a total eclipse of the 
moon. The sky was not obscured, but flecked here 
and there with heavy billows of dark cloud, one of 
which entirely covered Green Moimtain, and cast a 
misty shadow on Gannet HiU. The moon was un- 
clouded and threw a yellow light over the sea, turning 
the white breakers livid as they lashed the black rocks 
with a terrible roar. 

It was truly a grand sight to look upon, but some- 
how it made one long for the sound of a human 
voice, and as David was in the Observatory, I was 
glad to turn into the kitchen-tent, with the excuse of 
asking HiU to come and look at the moon. I found 
him comfortably seated on an upturned cask, reading 
a very yellow novel by the light of a ship's lanthom, 
his little bed neatly covered with a Union Jack. In 
the background Sam was peacefully sleeping the sleep 
of the hard-worked, curled up in his packing-case. 
Altogether it was an " interior " hardly less striking 
than was the landscape without — ^illumined then by 



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cH. IX. Mars Bay Fashions. 117 

the dusky light of the eclipsed moon, and could X 
have used the artist's brush, *' Our cooking-tent by- 
night " would have afforded a good subject. 

The following day our Kttle bay became less ex- 
cited, and towards noon we heard the welcome cry, "A 
boat in sight ! " Yes ! there she was, tacking boldly 
against the wind, and by-and-by grappling in the surf 
for the buoy, which she caught with difficulty. Besides 
the water-casks, she brought us two officers of the 
Cygnet, who had come to say good bye, their ship 
being under orders to sail next day. 

Guests at Mars Bay were much appreciated, and 
to-day we had quite a merry party ; none the less so 
that it was unexpected and knives and forks were 
rather scarce. Neither did we take it amiss if our 
guests turned up their plates for critical examination 
before using them, and wiped out the glasses with 
their table-napkins. It was simply an act of necessity 
in this part of the world, and the habit grew so strong 
on us that we began to be afraid that, on our return to 
civilization, we might some day, in an absent mood, 
offend a dainty Scotch housewife by following the 
Mars Bay fashion at her table. 

After a very pleasant day, we went to the beach 
before sunset to speed our parting guests. They ex- 
perienced much delay and difficulty in starting, owing 
to the freaks of a treacherous wave, which, in the first 
place, lifted the dingey high and dry on the beach, and 
then, when the passengers got on board, refused to 
come back to float them off! This necessitated all 



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1 1 8 Six Months in Ascension. ch. ix. 

jumping on shore again, and that was just the very 
moment the mischievous roller seized upon to bear 
off the dingey unfreighted. Then there was a rush, 
with the result of wet feet; and our adieux were 
mingled, if not with tears, at least with much salt 
water! 



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CHAPTER X. 

A SUNDAY SCENE, 

Disturbance in the Galley. — Reading the Eiot Act. — A Fight — Con- 
trition. — Change in the Galley. — Sam the Second.— A revelation. 
— The government of King Rum.— A practical joke.— By the sea. 
—The " Orontes."— No turtle boat. 

After having dwelt at Mars Bay for three weeks 
in perfect peace and harmony, we were beginning 
to fancy ourselves a model happy family, when one 
Sunday morning we had a rude awakening from our 
dream. While quietly reading after breakfast in the 
dining tent, Sam's black face suddenly appeared at 
the door without its accustomed grin, and wearing an 
expression altogether new. 

" Graydon beat me — he say he kill me," were the 
only coherent phrases in poor Sam*s excited, broken 
English ; and he really looked so savage and so unlike 
himself that I felt afraid of him. David was per- 
plexed, and went at once to seek an explanation in the 
kitchen. 

After a short time he came back, satisfied that he 
had read the Eiot Act to good purpose. Sam had been 
teazing Graydon, who had lost his temper and 
threatened to strike him, but the little quarrel seemed 



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1 20 Six Months in Ascension. ch. x. 

to have passed over, and we thought we should hear no 
more of it. Judge then of my dismay when, an hour or 
two afterwards, I saw Graydon and Sam engaged in a 
hand to hand fight on the clinker! We both rushed out 
instinctively, to separate the combatants, who desisted 
immediately we appeared ; but by this time they were 
bleeding profusely, and looked shamefully disreputable- 
Each, of course, blamed the other, but both were so 
excited, that it was impossible to arrive at any clear 
understanding of the matter. Hill's account also was 
contradictory; but he was emphatically decided in 
saying, that if one of these two did not go, he would, 
for he couldn't possibly live in the same tent with them, 
they were so violent. And, indeed, I had good proof of 
their violence in the broken cooking-stove, the door 
of which was split in two by a blow from Graydon's 
foot, aimed at Sam. 

Here was a nice Sunday morning's work ! We were 
extremely annoyed and distressed, and somewhat at a 
loss how to act. Each servant was good individually, 
and, until now, we had thought they were in amity ; 
but on cross-examination, it appeared that there had 
been a smouldering fire for some time, and now it 
had burst into a flame, very destructive to our peace. 
I must say that, as soon as their passion had died out, 
both men were repentant, and very much ashamed of 
themselves. Graydon's contrition was quite painful, and 
he seemed overwhelmingly distressed by the thought 
that " Mrs. Gill must think him a blackguard ; " 
while Sam wandered about, with the most woe-begone 



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Sam must go. 121 



expression of face, looking like a restless spiiit of 
darkness. 

As one may suppose, we spent a very impleasant. 
Sunday, and all our little congregation were absent 
from prayers that evening — Hill excusing himself on 
the plea that if he came, " They two might be agoin* 
it again ! '* 

Something, of course, must be done, but as the men 
were really contrite and sorry for their fault, we were 
willing to spare them all punishment. After some 
thought, my husband decided simply to ask Captain 
Phillimore to exchange our Krooman, on the ground 
that he and the others did not get on well together ; 
adding that, for our own part, we should be sorry to 
lose him. We agreed to say nothing whatever about 
the Simday fight — that woidd have been a grave 
offence indeed, judged on the quarter-deck of the 
Ascension, 

Two reasons guided us to this decision. The first 
was a purely selfish one. It would have been a very 
serious inconvenience for David to lose Graydon, 
who was now weU trained to the work, just as " Oppo- 
sition " was approaching : and in the second place, I 
now discovered for the first time that Master Sam had 
become very unmanageable with Hill, invariably re- 
fusing to do anything not quite agreeable to himself, 
and making quite sure of " Da-da's " and " Ma-ma's " 
support in his rebellion. Indeed, I fear we had 
spoiled Sam by making a sort of pet and plaything of 
him, so there was no help for it — ^he must go ; but not 



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122 Six Months in Ascension. ch. x. 

in disgrace, for we all shared the blame, and I really 
felt quite miserable about it. Captain Phillimore 
very good-naturedly asked no questions, but took 
back Sam again to work at the pier-head, and gave us 
another Sam in his place. 

Sam the second had a care-worn, reproachful cast 
of coimtenance, painfully different from his pre- 
decessor's normal grin; and I did not get to feel the 
same interest in him for some time, but he proved a 
faithful servant, and our domestic life again flowed 
evenly. 

We often puzzled over this sudden outburst of 
temper on the part of our two usually quiet, well- 
conducted servants, but some little time afterwards I 
discovered the secret from Hill. In a sudden burst of 
confidence, he told me that on the previous night their 
week's allowance of rum had arrived, and they had 
drank it all at once. 

Such a misfortime as this could happen only under 
exceptional circumstances, as it is now a rule in the 
Navy that the daily allowance of rum must be mixed 
with water when served, so as to prevent the men 
selling it to each other, or saving it up for the plea- 
sure of getting drunk once a week. This wise law is 
by no means appreciated however, and even the poor 
women deplore what is for the good of their lords. 
One loyal wife was heard to say, " Ah ! Ascension is 
not the fine place it used to be ; once on a time my 
good-man could save his grog all the week, and make 
hisself quite comfortdble of a Saturday night ! '* 



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'' Bubbly-Waterr 



With a view still further to guard against this 
" comfortable " state of things, no intoxicating spirits 
are allowed to be sold on the island ; one bottle of beer 
a-day may be purchased by each man — ^that is all, and 
although it costs 1«., few of the marines are able to 
deny themselves the luxury. 

At Mars Bay a daily serving out of rum was, of 
course, impossible, so it was sent weekly in a pure 
state ; hence our trouble. He is a thirsty animal, the 
British tar, and in Ascension, when you ask whether 
he will have a glass of rum or half-a-crown, the in- 
variable answer is, " Well ! sir, money ain*t no use 
to me on this island." Truly, gold and silver had lost 
their sovereignty here; and King Rum was all-power- 
ful. For a glass of grog what was there that Jack 
could not or would not do ? And with the Ki'oomen, 
*' Bubbly-water " (rum) was equally potent. This 
tempts people to pay the men in the coin they 
like best, and we must plead guilty to having done so 
many a time. Indeed, it would move a heart of stone 
to see a poor fellow, who has been toiling cheerily 
for you imder a burning sun, come up and instead of 
asking for payment, meekly insinuate that he was 
very thirsty. My husband, I know, passed a very 
troublesome time with his conscience, during the 
erection and re-erection of the Observatory, and it 
was only when the evil came under our immediate 
notice, that we fully recognized the necessity of strict- 
ness in this matter of rum-giving. Then we strongly 
resolved, henceforth, to be " cruel only to be kind," 



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1 24 Six Months in Ascension. ch. x. 

and did what we could to prevent a repetition of the 
Sunday fight. 

One great evil that we had to contend against in 
our efforts to keep the men happy and friendly with 
each other, was their having so little to do. However, 
I was pleased to find, when I tried the experiment 
of getting books from the Seamen's Librar}'^, that 
both Hill and Graydon enjoyed reading. This did 
much to lessen the monotony of the day for them; 
and David's happy thought of providing an unlimited 
supply of fishing tackle, and showing a keen interest 
in the basket, did still more for the peace and unity of 
our domestic circle. 

On one occasion this fishing mania gave opportunity 
for a cruel practical joke at my expense. I had just 
spent a Sunday in Garrison ; and when I returned on 
Monday, hot and hungry from the clinker, a dish of 
delicious fiUetted fish was set before me. This I con- 
cluded to be rock-cod, to which my exceeding hunger 
was giving an unusual relish. More than once I ex- 
pressed my appreciation of this dainty dish, testifying 
to it still more strongly by making an excellent meal. 
David kept on saying how glad he was that I liked 
the fish, and then, as if a sudden thought had struck 
him, he turned to Hill and asked, " What sort offish 
is it ? " 

" Conger eel, sir ! " said Hill, in a tone of sup- 
pressed amusement. 

"Eels! " I exclaimed in disgust; and threw down the 
fork which was conveying a choice morsel to my lips. 



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cH. X. Mars Bay Fish. 125 

I had all the prejudice of a Scotchwoman against the 
nasty things, and nothing would induce me to have 
them at table, so my ingenious husband had recourse 
to this cruel experiment, hoping thereby to cure me of 
my fancy. But who would give up a pet prejudice 
or a pet superstition without a struggle in this age 
of logic and hard facts? I was not going to yield 
to the first assault, so I at once declared that I 
felt sick and altogether much too ill to watch for 
Mars that night. "Kevenge is sweet, especially to 
women." 

Besides this horrid conger — ^which, strange to say, is 
considered quite a dehcacy in Ascension — our little bay 
swarmed with fish of every shape and size, from the 
monster shark, that cost us much in the way of 
lost lines and hooks, to a lovely nimble wee fish, vul- 
garly called "five fingers," striped with changeful 
greens, and glistening like a rainbow with every rest- 
less motion. The white-fleshed cavalhoe and the 
savoury rock-cod were the staple food of our breakfast 
and dinner-table ; but, numerous as they were, it re- 
quired no small skill to catch them, owing to the larger 
number and greater greed of the hideous black " old 
maids," with their double row of dog-like teeth. If 
the rock-cod did not look sharp, these ravenous crea- 
tures got hooked in their stead, much to our disgust, 
for they were unfit for table use. 

Beautiful opal-coloured mackerel darted about in 
the clear pools, and it became quite a sport with David 
to spear them, for bait, with his iron-pointed alpen- 



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126 Six Months in Ascension, ch. x. 

stock. Prickly sea-urchins lay curled up like balls of 
miniature bayonets among the coral, and the lovely 
sea anemones bloomed fair in our marine garden at 
Mars Bay. Numbers of little crabs crawled every- 
where above and about the rocks, where myriads of 
" natives " lived and died ; and from imder many a 
weed-gi'own stone a slimy cuttle-fish would stretch out 
a hideous arm for a passing crab. 

These salt pools, left by the receding waves among 
the rocks, were beautiful natural aquariums; in whose 
inhabitants we had great interest ; and our daily sun- 
set walk invariably took the shape of a scramble along 
the beach in search of " fairlies." 

Sometimes, instead of pools we found little islands 
of white salt lying among the black rocks, testifying to 
the rapid evaporation, due in great measure to the con- 
stant trade-wind. We did enjoy these scrambles, when, 
after the heat of the day, our parched lungs were re- 
freshed with a draught of fresh cool air ; and, if too 
great curiosity regarding some sea-creature cost us 
a wetting, that but added to the pleasing excitement 
of the excursion. 

During this hour at the sea-side the subject of Mars 
was prohibited in our conversation, and my husband 
endeavoured to fortify himself for the coming anxious 
nights, by banishing the cause of anxiety from his mind 
for a season. But the success of his efforts was doubt- 
ful, and I have a suspicion that many more of our 
wettings were caused by upward glances towards the 
clouds, than by downward seekings into the pools. 



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CH. X. The Orontes. 12^ 

As Opposition (5th Sept.) drew near, our anxiety 
increased; and although we had by this time se- 
cured a pretty large number of observations, yet for 
some nights previous to the important 6th little had 
been done, and the decisive battle had still to be 
fought. 

The night of the 4th was very exhausting and un- 
satisfactory. Observations had been obtained in the 
evening, but in the morning heavy cloud, with hopeful 
though too short intervals of brightness, had kept us on 
the qm vive until 5 a.m., all to no purpose. Then, just 
as we were hoping for a little rest, Graydon sighted a 
huge steamer, which we fancied might be the mail 
(due on the 7th), so we had to give up all hope of 
repose for this night and hastily finish our letters. 
But it was a false alarm. As she came nearer we 
could see that this was even a larger ship than any of 
Donald Currie's floating castles, and that her decks 
were aglow with red-coats. A troop-ship, of course ; 
and we were soon able, by the help of a glass, to make 
out Orontes on her stem. What a monster she looked 
as she sailed slowly by to Clarence Bay ! I have no 
doubt our little white encampment raised much specu- 
lation on board ; but the Orontes did not deign to dip 
her flag to us, as did some other vessels, more polite ; 
nor did she call at our little harbour, which, consider- 
ing her size, was not remarkable. 

We thought what a busy day they would have in 
Garrison sending home convalescents, and men whose 
reliefs had come, unshipping horses, mules, &c., and 



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128 Six Months in Ascension. ch.x. 

we were not surprised that our turtle boat failed to 
put in her usual appearance, although her non-arrival 
considerably upset our domestic arrangements, and 
had a fatal consequence with regard to our letters. 
But this sad tale must be told hereafter in its own 
proper place. 



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CHAPTEE XI, 

THE OPPOSITION OF MARS. 

Suspense.— Evening success. — A little cloud. —Splendid Definition.— 
Sweet sounds. — ^A favourable Opposition. — The Mail lost. 

Meantime the 6th of September has come. I 
could write no diary, and have not the slightest re- 
collection of how I spent the day — unprofitably, I fear, 
in watching and waiting ; finally bringing on a violent 
headache towards evening, which was less painftd, 
however, than the excessive nervous excitement I was- 
endeavouring to repress. To-night Mars will be nearer 
to us — ^his ruddy glare brighter than ever again for 
a hundred years, and what if we should not see 
him? 

The sun had shone all day in a cloudless sky, but 
before sunset some ugly clouds rolled up from wind- 
ward, and made me feel quite feverish. I could not rest^ 
but kept wandering about from tent to tent like an un- 
quiet spirit; inwardly resenting David's exceeding 
calm, as a tacit reproof to my perturbation. There 
he sat, quietly tying up photographs, softly whistling 
to himself, as if nothing were going to happen, and 



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130 Stx Months in Ascension. ch. xi. 

then he actually smoked a very long pipe, with even 
longer and slower whiffs than usual. Of course it 
was affectation ! But I wondered how he managed to 
keep up the deception, and for the first time /w% 
believed what he had told me of having enjoyed his 
breakfast on the morning of the Transit of Venus, 
notwithstanding that it rained. Nominally, we dined 
to-day at half-past five, and I foimd it hard work ! 

Six o'clock, and still the heavens look undecided ; 
half-past six, and a heavy cloud is forming in the south. 
Slowly the cloud rises — very slowly ; but by-and-by a 
streak of light rests on the top of the dark rocks — it 
widens and brightens, and at last we see Mars shining 
steadily in the pure blue horizon beneath. It was 
now seven o'clock, and David called quickly for lights. 
Graydon, who was almost as much excited as I was, 
answered with his ready " Aye, aye, sir," and in a few 
minutes I was left alone in a pitiful state of anxiety 
and imquiet. 

How slowly the minutes passed ! How very long 
each little interruption appeared ! The wind was 
blowing lazily, and light clouds glided at intervals 
across the sky, obscuring, for a few moments, tlie 
Planet as they crossed his path. But at last I heard 
the welcome note " All right," and then I went to bed, 
leaving David to add the pleasant postscript of ^* Even- 
ing success " to his letters. When the letters were 
finished, he gave them in charge to Hill, with orders 
that they should be sent off at daybreak, and then he lay 
down to rest. 



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cH. XI. " / Mak Siccar!' i^,^ 

I now took the watch for the morning. The first 
hoiu's of my waiting promised well, but before 1 a.m. 
a tiny cloud, no bigger than a man's hand, arose in the 
south, and I called my husband to know what he 
thought of it. On this, the night of Opposition, the 
planet would be in the most favourable position for 
beginning morning observations about 2.30. Now 
it was but 12.50, and the question came to be 
— shall some value of position be lost, so as to 
give a greater chance of seeming observations 
before the rising cloud reach the zenith, or shall 
we wait, in the hope that this cloud has "no fol- 
lowers " ? 

Being a Scot, and fully appreciating the motto of the 
Kirkpatricks, '* I mak siccar," David began work at 
once in a break-neck position, with the telescope 
pointed but a few degrees west of the zenith. How my 
heart beat, for I saw the cloud rise and swell, and yet 
no silver lining below. I dared not go inside the Ob- 
servatory, lest my uncontrollable fidgets might worry 
the observer, but sat without on a heap of clinker, and 
kept an eye on the enemy. Five, ten, fifteen minutes ! 
Then David called out, " Half set finished — splendid 
definition — go to bed ! " Just in time, I thought, and 
crept off to my tent, thankful for little, and not ex- 
pecting more, for one arm of the black cloud wa^ 
already grasping Mars. 

My husband would, of course, remain in the Obser- 
vatory for the rest of the night to watch for clear in- 
tervals, while I was expected to go to sleep. But how 

K 2 



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132 Six Months in Ascension. en. xi. 

could I ? I took up a book and tried to read by the 
light of my lantern for a few minutes ; then I thought 
to myself, ** Just a peep to see whether the cloud pro- 
mises to clear oflf." I looked forth, and lo ! no cloud ! 
I rubbed my eyes, thinking I must be dreaming, and 
pulled out my watch, to make sure I had not 
been asleep, so sudden was the change. No ! truly 
the obnoxious cloud had mysteriously vanished, and 
the whole moonless heavens were of that inky blueness 
so dear to astronomers. 

Mars now outrivalled Jupiter in ruddy splen- 
dour; Orion had flung abroad his jewels like hoar- 
frost; the Pleiades glittered in such bewildering 
multitude, that it seemed as if the lost Pleiad had 
returned with a train of shining followers from some 
other system. "Like fire-flies tangled in a silver 
braid," they shone with a soft beauty; and every- 
where, above and around, myriads of stars dazzled 
the night. 

While my eyes drank in this beautiful scene, my ears 
were filled with sweet sounds issuing from the Observa- 
tory, "A, seventy and one, point two seven one; B, 
seventy-seven, one, point three six eight," &c. Let 
not any one smile that I call these sweet sounds. 
Sweet they were indeed to me, for they told of success 
after bitter disappointment; of cherished hopes 
realised ; of care and anxiety passing away. They 
told too of honest work honestly done — of work that 
would live and tell its tale, when we and the instru- 
ments were no more ; and, as I thought of this, there 



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CH. XI. A Happy Night 135 

came upon me with all their force the glowing words 
of Herschel — 

"When once a place has heen thoroughly ascer- 
tained, and carefully recorded, the hrazen circle with 
which that useful work was done may moulder, the 
marble pillar totter on its base, and the astronomer 
himself survive only in the gratitude of his posterity ; 
but the record remains, and transfuses all its own 
exactness into every determination which takes it for 
a groundwork.'* 

Happier hours I never spent than those early morn- 
ing ones under this beautiful heaven ; for in helpless 
restlessness I had again taken up my position on the 
clinker. The night was unusually still, and outside the 
Observatory there was not a sound save the gentle 
flapping of the tents — like the wings of passing birds, 
and the continual murmur of greeting from the waves 
as they met the shore. Time passed imconsciously, 
for I was giving my imagination full play, and when I 
heard the Observator}'* dome shut, I could hardly 
believe that I had been dreaming on a rock for three 
hours. The awakening was as pleasant as the dream 
had been. David was radiant, and no wonder ! All 
our previous disappointment, fatigue and anxiety were 
forgotten in the good fortune of to-night, and now we 
might rest. 

But excitement made sleep for me impossible, and 
after some fruitless attempts, I got up at 8 o'clock, and 
sallied forth into the bright morning. At this time I 
was fondly imagining Sam to be in Garrison with the 



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134 *^^ Months in Asceftsion. ch. xi. 

letter bag; so judge of my dismay, when the first 
object my eyes rested upon was the young man quietly 
smoking at the door of the kitchen tent ! I called 
Hill, and on my asking why he had so disobeyed 
orders, he coolly replied, ** Oh ! the Mail isn't in yet, 
ma'am, we'd have seen her pass." Be it confessed — ^I 
lost my temper. After taking so many precautions to 
make sure of the letters going at daybreak, to 
have them all frustrated by such a gross act of dis- 
obedience was too provoking; and it was in a very 
cross tone indeed that I told Sam to be off at 
once. 

When David heard the news, he too was very in- 
dignant and scolded Hill severely ; still we had good 
hope that all would yet be well. But alas ! the 
truant turtle-boat, (which ought to have come for our 
letters the day before, had she not been delayed by the 
Orontes,) arrived to-day at noon, bringing us home 
letters, and also the distressing news that ours had 
missed the Mail The Mail was under way as our 
runner sighted Garrison, and the captain had waited 
for him some time in vain. It was very annoying, 
and Hill was exceedingly ashamed of himself; but 
unfortunately, that did not forward our poor letters, 
many of which were of considerable importance ; at 
least many of my husband's were. The only one 
of mine I felt unhappy about was my letter to my 
mother ; and the thought of the five weeks of anxiety 
that she would suffer on our account until next mail, 
was the single di'op of bitterness that mingled with 



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cH. XI. A Drop of Bitterness. 135 

the sweet satisfaction of a favourable " Opposition/^ 
and the enjoyment of home news. 

Well ! it was one of those little clouds that often 
come on the brightest days, just to keep the brightness 
from dazzling our eyes, and to remind us that bad 
weather may come. 



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CHAPTEE Xn. 

THE SEA-SHORE AND THE ROLLERS. 

Blood-stained travellers. — ^A terrible highway.— [South Point. — An 
unexpected path. — ^A lava forest. — An adventure with an Octopus. 
— A family party. — ** The Twa Dogs. ** — Grannet Bay. — The coming 
of the Wide-awakes. — ^A good determination of the Sun's Distance. 
— ^The Rollers, what are they ? — Captain Evans' theory. — Disap- 
pearance of the Rollers. — Centipedes in the cheese. — Off for a 
holiday. 

A FEW days after the triple excitement of Mars, the 
Orontes, and the Mail, two blood-stained travellers 
arrived at our encampment towards sunset, with torn 
clothes and limping gait. At first sight of them I 
felt a thrill of alarm, but was soon relieved by a familiar 
voice calling out cheerily, " Halloo, Gill, we have not 
fallen among thieves, only upon the clinker —the horse 
bolted with us, made too free with the road, and a big 
bump threw us out on the top of each other." 

Here was a thrilling tale wherewith to stir up our 
quiet life, and after hearing it in full detail I registered 
an inward vow, never to drive across the clinker with 
that horse. Our friends, happily, did not seem hurt, 
beyond a few bruises and some slight cuts about the 
arms, but these were enough to stain their torn sleeves 
and give them an air quite touching and heroic. 



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CH. XII. Our Rough Road, i^j 

Of course there was considerable abuse of our tho- 
roughfare, and we now heard for the first time, that 
the day the Orontes was in harbour, several of her 
officers, with two lady passengers, had set out with the 
intention of paying us a visit. But the bumping had 
been such as to bump a wheel off one cart ; and some 
accident, I forget what, having happened to the other, 
the whole party was obliged to return to Garrison 
without having been able to reach our inaccessible re- 
treat. We were sorry both for our intended guests 
and for ourselves, and began to fear that these re- 
peated accidents would have the effect of deterring 
all but the most courageous spirits from seeking 
us out. 

It was really a terrible highway, — as liable to rise 
and fall as the Stock Exchange, — cutting short the 
breath of the unlucky voyager with each sudden 
descent, and further blinding him with the flying ash, 
which rose in clouds as the clumsy cart-wheels chased 
the labouring horse across the lava plains. And yet I 
preferred this route to Garrison to going there by sea. 
The outward voyage was still fresh in my memory; 
and had a landway, as Borely beset with dust, ruts, 
and rocks as this road to Garrison, led back to 
England, I would have suffered the dust-staining and 
the bruising rather than be *' rocked in the cradle of 
the deep." 

I once read somewhere of three death-bed regrets of 
an old sage. ** There are three things in my past life 
that I would recall," he said. ** The first, that I ever 



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1 38 Six Months in Ascension. cu. xn. 

told a secret to a woman ; the second, that I ever let a 
day go by without bringing some good to pass ; the 
third, that I once took a journey by sea when I might 
have gone by land." And I was fully resolved that my 
latter days should, at least, not be burdened with this 
last regret. 

But to return from this digression, and a propos of 
roadways, one cloudy afternoon towards the end of 
September we discovered, in the course of our evening 
ramble, that a rough path led across the little tongue 
of land which I have already described as lying to the 
south of us. Ever since coming to Mars Bay I had 
looked at this forest of lava, and wondered whether it 
might be possible by any means to penetrate it, and so 
reach the twin bay on the other side. But the needle- 
like rocks were not encouraging, and it required some 
practice in clinker walking, before we could make up 
our minds to attempt it. However, on the afternoon 
in question we resolved to explore, and set out about 
4 o'clock in a spirit of enterprise, and armed with our 
alpenstocks. 

"We entered the rocky forest at what seemed the 
most accessible point, close to our shore, and then 
tried to steer eastward. After clambering a few yards, 
we noticed that in some places the sharp points of the 
rocks were broken oflf, and the hollows filled up with 
them, '*just as if it were meant for a road," we re- 
marked, never dreaming that this was other than 
chance. But as we proceeded, it became clear that a 
road had actually been made here; shadowy indeed. 



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CH. XII. South Point, 139 

and we often lost it, but only to find it again at another 
turn. The discovery affected us with something of 
the scared surprise that Robinson Crusoe felt at sight 
of the foot-prints on the sand. 

A sudden brightening overhead caused us to change 
our intention of crossing South Point this afternoon ; 
so by-and-by we turned southward towards the sea, 
hoping to catch a breeze as we climbed homeward 
along the coast from South Pyramid. There, in the 
stony forest, high rocks on every side kept off the wind, 
and now reflected the heat of the sun to a painful 
degree. This made them the reverse of pleasant 
travelling companions; nevertheless, they were very 
beautiful. "Wonderful too, they were beyond descrip- 
tion, and I so longed to know something of their story 
that I was almost cross because they gave me no 
"testimony." 

The monotonous cinder-heap on which our en- 
campment was pitched roused no admiration, and 
but little wonder. It was plainly volcanic refuse, 
dull and dead; but here, where we now stood, 
all the grandeur of Vulcan's monuments was around 
us, fresh as the day he moulded them, and fan- 
tastic as the dreams of any fire-worshipper. Here 
and there towered aloft great red masses of lava, 
soft and crumbling to the touch, and of whatever 
form the wiKul fancy of the time had shaped them. 
Partly covering some of the harder rocks was a 
soft snowy substance — of what nature I know not. 
Closer to the shore these colours and all sharp 



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I40 Six Months in Ascension. ch. xii. 

points disappeared, and the dark basaltic rocks stood 
alone in well-rounded outline. 

One could see that they were swept at times to the 
very top by the restless waves, which were now 
dashing against their slippery sides with such violence 
as to send a shower of spray over us where we stood, 
some distance off, watching the grand contest between 
sea and land. Through some parts of the resisting 
wall the waves had cut passages for themselves, and 
came roaring under the rocky arches with a noise that 
made one wonder how the peaceful limpets and cray- 
fish could put up with it. 

For the first time I saw beauty in Ascension. Grim 
and joyless^ but grand and majestic, were these gloomy 
rocks, trimmed round the base with delicately-tinted 
-coral, their sternness veiled in feathery foam. Millions 
of shell-fish covered the lower rocks, among which 
lurked lucid pools, lined with the wonderfully-con- 
structed homes of their habitants. 

While poking at a lovely shelf of pink coralline in 
■one of these grottos, trying to dislodge it, I felt my 
stick suddenly pulled from my grasp. Thinking it 
must have got fixed among the stones in some way, I 
was about to put down my hand to disengage it, when 
to my horror I saw some ugly slimy tentacles wind 
themselves round my trusty staff, which was now the 
prey of a cuttle-fish. There was not the slightest 
occasion for it, of course; nevertheless, I screamed. 
This was no devil-fish of Victor Hugo dimensions ; 
but so hideous was the creature, that disgust, not 



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An Octopus. 141 



terror, possessed me. David, who was at a little dis- 
tance exploring on his own account, concluded that I 
had at last sprained my ankle — an accident he had 
been threatening me with for some time — and ran 
quickly to my assistance. 

** Only an octopus ! We have seen many of these 
before." 

"Yes, but only baby ones, who looked innocent 
enough to be gorged with crabs ; this is a monster — a 
fiend!" 

We stood watching him. Clearly my stick was not 
to his liking, for by-and-by he gradually imwound him- 
self from it and sank sullenly down among the coral, 
looking, as before, like a tuft of harmless sea-weed. 
How I congratulated myself on not having trusted my 
hand under water ! Had I done so, and had I been 
alone, I doubt not that this monster of ugliness would 
have cost me at least a limb, for I fear I should have 
lacked the strength and presence of mind to fling hirg 
off at once, before the " suckers *' had seized firm hold 
— ^the only chance, I believe, of freeing one's self 
without hurt. David wished to secure our big octo- 
pus for future contemplation, and aimed at him a 
strong blow, hoping by chance to touch his vital part, 
but he only touched his spleen. Immediately on 
finding himself attacked, the creature emitted an inky 
fluid, which turned the clear pool dark as Styx, and 
under cover of this he made his escape, much to 
David's disappointment, and to my relief. 

It was so fresh and cool and beautiful here by the 



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142 Six Months in Ascension. ch. xn. 

sea, that we would fain have prolonged our stroll ; but 
the sun was getting low, and it would have been a 
serious matter indeed to lose the daylight, with such 
an uncertain path before us, and so much starlight 
work to be done. No one that has not lived for many 
weeks in a lonely comer of the earth, with no variation 
in its dismal landscape but cloud and sunshine, day- 
light and darkness, can imagine my enjoyment of this 
new scene; and, notwithstanding aching feet, cut 
shoes, and tattered skirts, I felt eager to explore 
further another day, and to follow the rough road to 
its end. 

The nights succeeding " Opposition " had been 
wonderful, and each one filled many pages with Helio- 
meter measures. All fear of failure having quite 
passed away, I felt it no treason to long for a cloudy 
afternoon, that we might with comfort extend our ex- 
ploration into the unknown country. 

It was not long before such a day arrived; and as 
Mars Bay was so fortunate as to have a lady visitor at 
this time, we made a pleasant little party on our second 
excursion. Only Sam was left behind ; and Hill and 
Graydon, bearing between them a pickaxe and a 
basket for booty, were followed by Beauty and Rover — 
two important members of our household, whom I feel 
ashamed of never having mentioned before. 

Poor Beauty was a sorry dog, with a coat lanky, 
stubbly, and grey; a rather imbecile expression of 
coimtenance, and a pathetic limp on a hind foot. 
She was affectionately attached to Hill, and so gentle- 



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CH. xir. ^^ Rover " 143 

mannered, that we loved her soberly, and felt indig- 
nation against the facetious wit who had named the 
poor old thing Beauty. I doubt her personal attrac- 
tions even in youth. But possibly she may have 
been a beauty in her day, just as every exceptionally 
ugly old woman reports herself to have been ; and, 
perchance, she was once lithe and nimble, like old 
Argus in his youth. 

Such was our Beauty ; and I bring her before the 
curtain first, not so much with the idea of " Place aux 
dames," but for fear, lest, once fascinated in the 
enumeration of Eover's charms, I might have for- 
gotten her. 

Pretty little Eover ! To you belongs the honour of 
being my first love in dogs. Not that I was the 
happy possessor of this fascinating poodle, but I took 
a great interest in his education, and shared the ex- 
citement of his washing-day with Graydon, who was 
his lawful master. Altogether he was too delicate a 
" beastie " for clinker life, and it cost us much trouble 
to keep him from rolling his silky snow-white coat in 
the black dust. This was especially annoying just 
after he had been washed, and there was gi*eat diffi- 
culty in finding a place where he would allow himself 
to dry cleanly. 

At last we hit upon the roof of the Transit Hut, 
and there dear little Eover used to be perched aloft, 
whining and shivering, the picture of pathos and des- 
pair. Once indeed this plan had serious consequences. 
All the ceremony of washing and " hanging up ** had 



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144 ^^^ Months in Ascension. ch. xir. 

been gone through one fine morning, and Rover was 
growing dryly content in his airy situation, when the 
astronomer bethought himself that a star must be 
observed. For this purpose he proceeded to the 
Transit Hut, threw open the roof with a jerk, and 
down slid poor Rover on the clinker, fortimately 
unhurt, but it was a great shock! and hereafter the 
master of the house had to be warned of the washing- 
days, and cautioned against a rash use of the drying- 
ground. 

This account of Rover will show how imfit he was for 
our rough walk, and I strongly objected to his society 
on the occasion. However Gray don imdertook to 
carry him in the basket when he felt tired, and we all 
set out together, leaving no one to guard the Obser- 
vatory but Sam and PoZZ^/ — a most iminteresting parrot, 
belonging to Hill, whose days were spent entirely in 
eating and screaming. 

"We were able to find the path again with some 
trouble, and now followed it right across South Point 
to the bay on the other side, where it terminated. 
Here we discovered, hidden among the black rocks, a 
lovely white coral-strewn beach, larger than we could 
boast of at Mars Bay ; but being on the windward 
shore it formed no harbour. This the chart showed 
us was Gannet Bay, and we concluded that turtle 
must have come ashore here at some time, and that 
the path had been made to facilitate their transport to 
Garrison ; but on afterwards talking the matter over 
with Captain Phillimore, he told us that the path had 



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CH. XII. Booty from the Shore. 145 

more probably been made while the island was being 
surveyed in the beginning of the century. 

Upon the rocks within high-water mark we noticed 
a quantity of curious dark-green seaweed. This we 
afterwards learned was available for dyeing purposes ; 
but not being aware of its properties at the time, we 
did not press it into our booty basket ; contenting 
ourselves with a variety of the delicately-tinted shells 
with which the beach was strewn, and some lovely 
corals. Indeed, on the homeward journey the basket 
became so full that poor Eover could find no nest in it. 

" This is just the sort of ground they find diamonds 
in," David kept on sajdng as he plied the pickaxe; 
but all that our good fortune brought us was some 
curiosities in lava, ironstone, pumice, and one or 
two wonderful specimens of basalt, exactly like logs of 
charred wood without the bark. These, mixed with 
the bright coral, afterwards made a pretty rock-work 
at the door of our tent, besides giving me food for no 
end of speculation and wonder. For my Geology was 
only in its infancy, while my husband's was rusty 
from disuse ; and we too often failed to make our im- 
perfect book knowledge explain the teaching of our 
" Schools and Schoolmasters." 

For some days we had noticed great flights of small 
dark-winged birds pass inland from the sea, and as we 
were returning from our excursion to Gannet Bay 
about sun-set, the sky was dark with them. Their 
cries were loud and continuous, reminding one strongly 
of the cawing of rooks. 



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146 Six Months in Ascension. ch. xii. 

" The Wide-awakes are coming back," said the men, 
and we were pleased to hear it, being anxious to see 
their renowned Fair before leaving Ascension. These 
*' Wide-awakes " or " Tropical swaUows," we had been 
told, come here in thousands, at irregular intervals, to 
deposit their eggs on some rocks near the centre of 
the island ; and the noise and bustle they make in 
their nurseries at these times have given rise to the 
name ** Wide-awake Fair." 

Since our arrival in Ascension these pretty birds 
had been absent, and we now rejoiced to see them 
winging their flight back once more. Many hundred 
miles of ocean had the brave little travellers crossed, 
and, wondering whether they had found the sea-voyage 
as wearying as I had done, I longed to throw them a 
word of welcome to land. Every day they continued 
to come in great numbers imtil the 5th of October, 
and I daresay afterwards; but on that day we left 
our sea-side residence for a week's holiday on Green 
Mountain. 

It was now a month since the Opposition of Mars, 
and he was fast receding from us, but not before satis- 
factory observations had been secured on thirty-two 
different evenings and twenty-five mornings, — enough 
to give a good determination of the sun's distance 
when all were fully and properly reduced. It now 
only remained to complete the triangulation (or rigid 
connection by measure) of the relative distances of the 
stars of comparison. That this could be accomplished 
easily we had no fear, because the process, being en- 



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CH. xr I. Giant Rollers. i^y 

tirely independent of Mars and of the altitude at 
which the observations might be made, could be con- 
tinued even till the month of February if required. 

During the critical part of the work we had 
not been sensible of the amount of bodily fatigue 
undergone ; but now that the nervous strain was relax- 
ing, I could see how much my husband needed rest. 
As for me, I had been longing to go to the Moimtain 
ever since I had seen a bunch of damj) green ferns 
which had been gathered there, and so I hailed the 
holiday morning with a light heart. 

We were obliged to take with us a good deal of 
household baggage, as the little mountain cottage 
we were to occupy was not very fully equipped, and I 
began to fear lest the rollers should prevent the boat 
from coming to our assistance. 

During the five previous days they had been persis- 
tent, and for the first twelve hours their grandeur and 
power exceeded anything I had ever conceived. I 
thought I had seen rollers at their worst on the day 
we landed at Ascension, and again on the night of the 
eclipse, but these I now foimd were but baby rollers 
after all. The full-grown giants shook our little en- 
campment like an earthquake, and the noise of their 
thunder deafened us. What a sight it was ! My pen 
is quite powerless to describe it. 

They fascinate one too, these mysterious rollers, 
and, watching them, we enjoyed our evening ^^tr oil 
along the shore even more than usual. Yet, each time 
that a great wave rose up twenty or thirty feet high, 

L 2 



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148 Six Months in Ascension. ch. xn, 

and came thundering along to dash itself to pieces on 
the beach, I shrank back with a sort of involuntary 
desire to flee the sight of the suicide. 

Probably the mysterious nature of the rollers 
accounts in some degree for their fascination. They 
are still a puzzle to science ; they still afford food for 
speculative theory ; and it is a relief sometimes to be 
able to wonder and [admire without being required to 
understand. This is treason to Science, I am told, 
and the ignoble escape of a weak mind from the 
School of IQiowledge to the Playgroimd of Imagi^ 
nation ! 

This may be, still I loved the rollers all the more 
that they kept their parentage and birthplace secret, 
fancying I could see in them a dash of saucy defiance 
as they sprang up, the one after the other, from the 
mysterious sea. 

Many theories have, of course, been set forth with 
regard to them by men who endeavour to arrive at 
first causes. Some have attributed them to the effects 
of the moon — 

"Whom Ocean feels through all his countless waves, 
And owns her power on every shore he laves ; " 

some to distant gales of wind ; some to tides ; others 
to earthquakes ; but the most ingenious theory I have 
heard is that of Capt. Evans, Hydrographer of the 
Navy. 

In the antarctic regions near the South Pole, there 
are formed in the winter huge masses of ice, — ^not mere 



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cH. XII. Evans' Theory of the Rollers. i^g 

icebergs, but continents of ice, following a coast-line 
of some hundreds of miles. In the summer these 
become loosened by the heat of the sun, and doubtless 
detach themselves in enormous masses, the length of 
which is measured by many miles. Such masses, 
falling into the sea, displace enormous volumes of 
water, and thus a great submarine wave is created. 
This wave propagates itself northward, invisible on 
the surface, till, encountering a sloping obstacle, like 
that of the submarine side of Ascension or St. 
Helena, it rushes up the face of the land and causes 
a breaker to rise from the calm sea, having all the 
characteristics of the roller. 

I like this theory, and am glad to say that I have 
not yet heard it explained away. 

Another writer on Ascension rollers describes their 
appearance in language so truthful and forcible that I 
take the liberty of quoting his words. Mr. Webster 
says, — " One of the most interesting phenomena that 
the island affords is that of the rollers, in other words 
a heavy swell, producing a high surf on the leeward 
shore of the island, occurring without any apparent 
cause. All is tranquil in the distance, the sea breeze 
scarcely ruffles the surface of the water, when a high 
swelling wave is suddenly observed rolUng towards 
the island. At first it appears to move slowly forward, 
till at length it breaks on the outer reefs. The swell 
then increases, wave urges on wave until it reaches 
the beach, where it bursts with tremendous fury. The 
rollers now set in and augment in violence imtil they 



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1 50 Six Months in Ascension. ch. xh. 

attain a terrific and awful grandeur, affording a mag- 
nificent sight to the spectator, and one which I 
have witnessed with mingled emotions of terror and 
delight — a towering sea rolls forward on the island 
like a vast ridge of waters, threatening, as it were, to 
envelope it, pile on pile succeeds with resistless force, 
until, meeting with the rushing offset firom the shore 
beneath, they rise like a wall and are dashed with 
impetuous fury on the long line of the coast, producing 
a stunning noise. The beach is now mantled over 
with foam, the mighty waters sweep over the plain, 
and the very houses at the town are shaken by the 
fury of the waves. But the principal beauty of the 
scene consists in the continuous ridge of water crested 
on its summit with foam and spray ; for as the wind 
blows off the shore the over-arching top of the wave 
meets resistance and is carried as it were back against 
the curl of the swell ; and thus it plays elegantly above 
it, as it rolls furiously onward, graceful as a bending 
plume ; while to add more to its beauty, the sunbeams 
are reflected from it in all the varied tints of the rain- 
bow. Amid the tranquillity which prevails around, it 
is a matter of speculation to account for this commo- 
tion of the waters, as great as if the most awful tem- 
pest or the wildest hurricane had swept the bosom of 
the deep. It occurs in situations where no such swell 
would be expected, in sheltered bays, and where the 
wind never reaches the shore. The strong and well- 
built jetty of the town has once been washed away by 
the rollers, which sometimes make a complete breach 



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cH. XII. The Holiday Morning. i^x 

over it, although it is twenty feet above high water- 
mark. On these occasions the crane at its extremity 
is washed round in various directions, as the weather- 
cock is turned by the wind. Such are the rollers of 
Ascension, and like unto them are those of St. Helena 
and Fernando Noronha." 

Some Ascension observers undertake to say that 
the rollers are heaviest when the sun is in the northern 
hemisphere, and when storms and gales are reported 
in the South Atlantic in the neighbourhood of Cape 
Horn. I am not able to say whether this be so, but 
from notes we made at Mars Bay, it is evident that- 
the rollers come up from the south, and we were able 
to warn the people in Garrison some hours before they 
made their appearance in the harbour. 

We fancied that with rollers we generally had clear 
weather, so that as a rule we hailed their appearance 
with joy. But on this, the occasion of our holiday, we 
were willing to dispense with them, and after having 
packed the bulk of our goods over-night, to be ready for 
the boat in the morning, it was a relief when I awoke to 
hear only the soft murmuring of the lapping tide. 
Whither had they gone ? Even in anxious watching 
for the turtle-boat, again and again I caught myself in- 
venting fables, and forgetting to decide how many forks 
and spoons should go to the Mountain, and whether or 
not we ought to take preserved milk and cheese. 

The question of the cheese, I may remark, by the 
way, settled itself at the last moment, without any 
trouble on my part. Indecision fled at the sound of 



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152 Six Months in Ascension. ch. xn. 

" Please, ma'am, the centipedes have made a nest in 
the cheese!" So the wild cats had a tasty crumb 
thrown to them to console them for omr absence, and 
no cheese went to the Momitain. 

Long before the boat arrived, the sea was so calm 
that delicate china or even a Heliometer-tube, might 
have been taken off in the dingey without much excite- 
ment on the part of anxious owners ; and our rough 
consignment of household gear was soon on board, 
with Hill and Sam in charge, en route for Garrison. 
We ourselves remained until the cool of the evening 
and then walked across the clinker to meet the ap- 
pointed cart, leaving Graydon, Eover, and Polly, for 
the time, monarchs of all they surveyed. 



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CHAPTER XIIL 

GREEN MOUNTAIN. 

A dreary way. — ^Water-tanks. — A conscientious pony. —Climbing the 
Ramps. — A delightful contrast. — Grass. — Garden Cottage. — A 
welcome fire. — Break-neck Valley.— A Dew Pond. — The Peak. — 
Looking down upon our neighbours. — A Krooman's idea of a holi- 
day.— Ascension Flora. — "Sherry and bitters."— "Sic itur ad 
astra." 

We passed the night in Garrison with Captain and 
Mrs. Phillimore, and set off in the cart next morning 
for Green Mountain, following a road which winds 
round Cross Hill at the same elevation above Garrison 
as the Captain's Cottage. 

We were even now not much nearer our destination 
than when we left Mars Bay, but there is no choice of 
routes to perplex the tourist in Ascension, and we 
took perforce this dreary way — around the side of Cross 
Hill, then four miles across a barren plain, diversified 
by the familiar piles of clinker. Black, brown, and 
reddish brick-dust-coloured cinder was gathered into 
heaps around us, and ground into dust along our path. 

Here and there the road would run for a short dis- 
tance parallel to the iron pipe which conveys the 
water from Green Mountain to Garrison, and on 



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154 'S'/r Months in Ascension. ch. xm. 

passing a small square block of mason-work about 
half-way, we read thereon in neatly painted letters, 
" Lady Hill Tank." Tanks are placed at intervals 
along the whole line of pipe to hold the reserve 
water, and, if possible, to gather any that may be col- 
lected in their neighbourhood. The next one we passed 
had the additional attractions of a pump and a trough, 
and bore the inscription, " God be Thanked Tank." 
The next was called " Travellers' Tank,'* and so on. 
Altogether I think we passed six of these tanks before 
reaching the bottom of the " Ramps." * 

As we were about to commence the ascent, we 
passed between two boats placed upright, with the stem 
ends buried in the clinker. In this way the upper 
halves were converted into rustic bowers, and a plank 
of wood placed across the inside a few feet from the 
ground, offered a welcome resting-place to the pedes- 
trian. Here the road split into two, and on a finger- 
post was written, "To Dampiers;" but as the post 
was placed at an exact angle between the two roads, 
and pointed quite as much to the one as to the other, 
we might have been at a loss had it not been for the 
very evident decision of our pony, who conscientiously 
chose the steeper way. 

Until now we had ascended very little since leaving 
the Captain's Cottage, and after four miles of tolerably 
level ground were stUl at the very bottom of the moun- 
tain, up the steep sides of which wound before us two 

* A name given to the western shoulders of the mountain ; possibly 
a contraction for "Eamparts." 



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CH. XIII. Extinct Craters. 155 

miles of a re ugh and stony road. Not that the moun- 
tain was two miles high, fortunately. A screw pro- 
gression, into the merits of which we had been initi- 
ated at St. Helena, led us slowly upward — now north, 
now south, then back again, turning and winding and 
making slow advance, but aflfording us excellent oppor^ 
tunities of viewing the surrounding country, which 
formed a great contrast to the brilliant panoramas 
of St. Helena. 

Yet it was interesting and curious. Now we could 
see that what before had seemed to be simply hills of 
cinder were really so many craters, some of them quite 
perfect with their cups unbroken; but the greater 
number were worn awa}^ more or less towards the 
south-east. As we mounted higher we saw too, that 
the larger hills, such as " The Three Sisters," " Cross 
Hill," and " Gannet Hill," were just as fiery in their 
nature as their humbler brethren. Altogether we 
counted ttventy-one extinct craters before reaching our 
destination — each one once a smoking chimney no 
doubt, fed from the great central funnel, on which we 
could now see the mules peacefully browsing, and hear 
the cocks crowing as our brave little pony toiled pain- 
fully upwards. 

Unlike that of most mountainous countries, cultiva- 
tion on Ascension commences at the top, but unfortu- 
nately it stops there. In ordinary times an oasis of 
4000 acres decks the mountain with a green cap ; 
but in this season of drought, the caj) had shrunk to a 
mere shred, and we were very near the top indeed 



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156 Six Months in Ascension. ch. xui. 

before our eyes were refreshed by a glimpse of real 
verdure. 

Stunted aloes and prickly pears appeared at inter- 
vals ; that was all. But the delightfully cold wind, now 
rushing down upon us, banished all feeling of disap- 
pointment, and at last I was stirred into enthusiasm at 
sight of a little family of ferns, hiding coyly from the 
Bun under a wild olive tree. After this, things con- 
tinued to improve, and, for some yards under the 
barracks, the naked rock covered itself with a robe of 
faded green and put forth trees, under the shade of 
which we reached the top. 

The contrast was delightful — the shade, the green, 
the coolness; and, down below, the hot burning desert 
which I could now hardly believe in. Yet there it 
lay, like a great map stretching out towards the sea, 
2,000 feet below us ; and away on the southern shore 
we descried our white tents gleaming in the sunshine 
of Mars Bay. 

Near the top of the Mountain are the farm-yard 
and a small barracks for twelve or fourteen men who 
attend to the cattle, the water supply, the garden, 
ifec. Here we found Hill, who had preceded us with 
the luggage, and with him a sergeant of marines, 
who, taking our pony by the bridle, led her forward 
through a stone archway, surmounted by a very rusty 
bell, into a really pretty garden. 

I could hardly contain my delight, and yet it was no 
gorgeous vision that burst upon me ; only seven or 
eight large shady trees dotted here and there along 



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CH. XIII. Garden Cottage. 157 

one side of the path ; and beyond these, and under 
their shade, about half an acre of garden ground, 
broken up into plots of young turnips, parsnips, pars- 
ley, and other vegetables. 

A single cocoa-nut tree, and a clump of bananas 
with tattered yellow leaves, grew against the end 
of the long low cottage, which stood here empty 
for our use. On the side facing the east a narrow 
projection was built on, and in the angle thus formed 
there were — oh, joy of joys ! — a few square yards of 
fresh green grass. At one comer of this miniature 
lawn, a patriarchal bald-headed ''Pride of India" 
supported a swing; while close beside the front 
verandah bloomed a few roses and geraniums. 

Within the verandah we found some wicker chairs 
and an iron sofa ; there too grew a small round table. 
From its single support, which dreamt not of plane or 
French polish, some tender green leaves were opening 
to the sun; but the life rose no farther. The car- 
penter had crowned the still living trunk with a life- 
less head, and it was on this unique escritoire that I 
prepared for the October mail. 

But the greatest novelty was yet to come. The 
porch-like projection which we now entered I foimd to 
be the drawing-room, and here a bright little fire was 
burning — afire within 8 degrees of the equator, and wel- 
come too ! It gave life and cheerfulness to the rest of 
the room, which contained nothing more remarkable 
than six chairs, two tables, and a sofa. Behind this 
was a tiny dining-room, furnished "to correspond,*' 



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158 Six Months in Ascension. ch. xm. 

but minus the sofa ; and from both ends of it the little 
house ran into bedrooms. Of these we chose the outer 
one towards the south for oul* apartment, and with a 
few additional comforts unpacked from our boxes, it 
appeared to us delightfully snug. 

" A gipsy's life is a joj^ous life," no doubt ; but then 
gipsies do not usually pitch their tents on clinker, and 
perhaps are not so keenly sensitive to dust and centi- 
pedes as one who has adopted their habits rather late 
in life. At all events, I heartily enjoyed the comfort 
afforded by four walls, and began with a will to settle 
down. During the process I explored the little chest 
of drawers in our bedroom, and the first drawer I 
opened displayed therein a disgusting cockroach rush- 
ing frantically hither and thither. Worse than centi- 
pedes ! So I shut him up, and tried another drawer. 
Here I discovered a penny, and some odds and ends, 
which made me feel as if I had intruded. So I shut 
that drawer up too, and tried another — ^it was bottom- 
less. Then I left the disappointing old thing alone, 
and stuck to my tin box, where cockroaches and 
strangers* goods did not distract me. 

After having put matters straight here as far as pos- 
sible, I could no longer restrain my impatience to 
gather a posy — an impatience, perhaps, not unnatural 
a three months* flower-famine — so I strolled 
the garden bent on plunder, and bore off in 
iph a magnificent orange-red Hibiscus, and a 
jtful of blossoms from a Pride of India. These 
• were especially grateful, with their scent of 



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CH. XIII. We Start for the Peak. 159 

English lilac, which they resemble also in form and 
colour. 

The next thing to be done was to search the cup- 
boards for glasses, and out of a stock of eight, com- 
prising the oddest variety, I chose two of the quaintest. 
In these I carefully placed my treasures, and straight- 
way felt that the four walls, six chairs, two tables, and 
one sofa, were converted into a drawing-room. 

That sofa, by the way, deserves a few words specially 
to itself— a whole book, in fact, for it was vile enough 
for any modern hero. So high in the seat that your 
feet dangled helplessly in the air ; so low in the back as 
to make you think of lumbago each time you attempted 
to rest ; and the cushion — ^well, I do not know what the 
cushion was stuffed with, and my imagination lacks a 
simile, but it was certainly neither a pillow of down 
nor a bed of roses. 

This afternoon the Peak was clear of cloud, and we 
were unwilling to lose the chance of getting to the very 
top, for " Garden Cottage," our present abode, stood 
400 feet below the highest point. So about 4 o'clock 
an aged mule was led to the door for my benefit, and 
under guidance of a sergeant of marines, David and I 
set out for the Peak. 

Passing through the farmyard behind, we ascended 
for a little way up an easy slope, which brought us sud- 
denly on a giddy height, with sharp precipices on 
either side. Here on our right we could see a deep 
gorge run along to windward. Everywhere on our left 
a furrowed plain spread itself out far below and 



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i6o Six Months in Ascension. ch. xin. 

touched the rock-lined coast ; a narrow ridge, covered 
with coarse grass and fringed with stunted trees and 
shrubs on the leeward side, led up to the Peak, now 
rising straight ahead and cutting off the east horizon. 

Here was a reproduction of Diana's Peak. Another 
lip of a huge crater, with its lava-sawn valleys opening 
to the sea. But here no soft verdure clothed the naked 
precipices — Nature hid no smiling gardens in the deep 
valleys — only rocks, everywhere rocks. 

The gorge dipping to windward was indeed charac- 
teristic of its name, "Break-neck Valley," for the ridge 
on which we stood cast itself headlong into it, and on 
either side steep rocky walls confined it. Here and 
there among the crags could be seen patches of coarse 
brown grass, from wliich a flock of sheep were attempt- 
ing to feed, at the risk of their necks; and occasionally 
some clumps of the much-enduring aloe stood out in 
decided green, and relieved the eye. 

How different had the colouring been forty years 
ago, when a lady writes that, " Nasturtiums covered 
the slopes of * Break-neck Valley.* " Possibly this is 
the time that the " Encyclopfiedia Britannica " refers 
to, when it tells us that Ascension is remarkable for its 
production of green vegetables ! Now there is nothing 
but rocks, bare and sterile, and in the lap of the 
valley a sun-burnt windmill. Near it stands a large 
octagon tank, and from our guide we learn that this 
gorge yields our largest water supply. 

As we paced slowly along — ^my mule preferring of 
course the extreme edge of the ridge — he was not par- 



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ctt. xiir. 



A Cold Breeze. i6i 



ticular as to right or left, but it must be the edge — 
we passed through gorse, blackberry bushes, wild 
ginger, guavas, and other shrubs which I did not re- 
cognise at the time, though I afterwards learned that 
they were "poor relations " of fair stately trees whose 
acquaintance I had made at St. Helena. In the shade 
of these were growing quantities of ferns, and the 
most beautiful stag-moss I had ever seen. It was 
in some places three feet high, like a miniature pine, 
and looked no mean descendant of the great genus of 
Lepidodendron. 

As we ascended, the cold increased, and the sudden 
change of scene and temperature since morning was 
bewildering. Yesterday at the Equator, to-day on 
some furze-clad hill of " oor ain countree." I had 
put on a moderately warm Shetland shawl at starting, 
and had laughed at David, who wouH load himself 
with a heavy Scotch plaid which I had brought with 
me for a blanket* By this time, however, I was glad 
enough to be enveloped in it, shivering the while, for 
the trade-wind was blowing a bitter blast, and the sun 
was hastening to the sea behind us, shrouded in leaden 
clouds. 

Within a few feet of the top, and surrounded by a 
thicket of little trees, we came upon the dew-pond — a 
cement-lined cup about twenty feet in diameter, meant 
to receive and retain any moisture that might be depo- 
sited here. It was at this time too new an experiment 
to have entirely succeeded; but even now a muddy 
pool lay at the bottom, giving hope for the future. 



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1 62 Six Months in Ascension, en. xm. 

The design was good, but bad material had frustrated 
it. The cement was porous, and much moisture had 
ahready escaped, while what remained was converted 
into mud* Here we tied the mule to a Eucalyptus 
tree, and climbed to the Peak on foot. 

A splendid view rewarded us ! Splendid at least 
in its comprehensiveness, for the whole of the little 
island now lay before us, and we were almost startled 
to find it so small. It seemed as if, with a good leap, 
one might jump over all these apparently tiny ash- 
heaps right into the sea. 

Turning our eyes southward, we saw Red Hill lying 
far below us ; and beyond it, to the south-west, was 
another red cone, which I did not at first recognize as 
Gannet Hill, our neighbour at Mars Bay. From our 
low level I had looked on it as a veritable mountain ; 
now it appeared very insignificant indeed, and I 
looked over its head with much contempt (just, alas \ 
as old neighbours that have risen in the world too 
often do) right away to the Observatory tents, dotted 
like a flight of sea-gulls on the black rocks by the shore. 

Towards the^west the sea appeared very close to 
us; the intervening plain, dotted with its little vol- 
canoes, being lost in the shelter of the big shoulder 
of hill on which stood the mountain settlement. 
To northward the dark plain again appeared, stretch- 
ing here and there into pretty little white-lipped bays. 
I call this 'plain in contradistinction to mountain^ and 
from the height where we now stood it certainly ap- 
peared tolerably level, with occasional ridges and fur- 



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cii. XIII. View from the Peak. 163 

rows : but I afterwards found these ridges stiff climb- 
ing, and in the innocent-looking furrows were hidden 
many nasty precipices, perplexing to a mule-mounted 
explorer not accustomed to steeple-chasing. 

On a low spur of the mountain to the north-east stood 
a solitary cottage, which, with its tiny bit of garden 
groimd, relieved considerably the wildness of the scene ; 
especially as the ridge, stretching out behind it, was 
grass-covered, and had it not been for the great red 
gullies sawn on either side, one might have given 
to it the sweet English name of meadow. East of this 
little oasis, the fire-bom wilderness gave itself up to the 
most fantastic and utter barrenness, and the red colour 
now disappeared from the land, giving place to a greyish 
white. 

The formation of this comer — the apex as it were 
of the triangle into which the island shapes itself — 
gave a curious impression of its having been somehow 
turned upside down. The topographical characteristics 
are entirely reversed, and instead of little hills rising 
from a plain, as on all other sides, here deep dry lakes 
are sunk in a raised plateau. At this point alone the 
coast is lost to view, on account of the high ground 
rising so abruptly fi-om the shore. Thus we could not 
see " Boatswain Bird Island,*' which, from the chart, 
I knew must lie close to the leeward shore. Alto- 
gether there was a certain mystery about these bare, 
bleached eastern hills and valleys, which excited a 
strong desire to explore. 

The Sergeant, however, was not very sanguine 

M 2 



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1 64 Six Months in Ascension. ch. xm. 

about ways and means. " You can't ride there, ma'am, 
and you can't walk," he said; and as I certainly 
couldn't fly, I felt depressed, if not despairing. 

Our glass could sweep the north, south and west 
coasts almost without interruption, and between the 
sea and the shoulders sloping from the great Parent 
Head on which we now stood, all was clinker-covered 
plains and clinker-built hills. Some 300 feet below 
us, a good footpath, called " EUiot's Path " (from the 
name of the admiral under whose supervision it was 
made) ran round the Peak ; and, branching oflf from it, 
another path wound its way along a ridge running 
southward to a little summer house which stood on the 
further extremity — seeming to invite us to take pity on 
its loneliness, and have a cup of tea under shelter of 
its roof 

All this, so diflScult to paint with a clumsy pen, was 
almost an instantaneous photograph to the eye ; and 
well it was so, for one could not long contemplate 
these burning plains from that elevation without 
shivering and teeth-chattering, so strong and biting 
was the wind. Indeed I was glad to take shelter from 
it in a " Boat-Bower," which is placed here, after the 
manner of those we saw at the foot of the " Eamps." 
This one bore the inscription, "Ascension Day, 1876," 
and our guide told us that the Kroomen had had a holi- 
day on that day in order to bring it up from Garrison. 
Verily these good Africans have a novel idea of a 
holiday ! and yet do not more enlightened people often 
work hard — ^very hard at pleasm'e-seeking ? 



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CH. xiir. Amo7ig the Flowcis. 165 

After a short rest here we turned homewards, lead- 
ing the mule behind us> and enjoying our loiter 
among the shrubs and trees. Writing in 1836, Dar- 
win says, " On the island there is no tree ; " and in 
1839, Hooker finds " Ferns the principal flora." But 
I venture to mention tree% in 1877, on the strength of 
a clump of fair-sized Port Jackson willows, which 
blossomed yellow in the sun, sheltered on the leeward 
of the ridge ; and, of course, the Scotch fir is a tree^ 
however small it may be, though I must confess, that 
the little colony in this place seemed to have forgotten 
the dignity of their race. 

I plucked some of the beautiful stag-moss and ferns 
as we went along, and also a few of the delicate pink 
blossoms of the ginger-plant, which I found hiding 
away among its flat, flapping, ungainly leaves ; and as 
I enjoyed the sight and scent of the flowers, they 
seemed to give out to me some of their fresh life. 

At the head of Breakneck Valley, the wind came 
rushing up the narrow gorge with such strength and 
bitterness that I could not stand against it, so I seated 
myself on the brink, wrapped in shawls, to let the 
breeze ** play freely round me " and brace up my poor 
nerves — tired and somewhat wearied out by Mars and 
Mars Bay. It was very delightful. *' Intoxicating,'* 
David suggested; on which our guide promptly re- 
marked, **TheycaU this place * Sherry and Bitters,' 
sir.'* We thought the name excellent, and David 
declared that it gave him a better appetite than ever 
did that insidious tonic. 



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1 66 Six Months in Ascension. ch. xm. 

By this time I was rather tired of walking and pro- 
posed to ride home ; but the Sergeant suggested, that 
instead of retracing our steps through the farm-yard, 
we should descend into Breakneck Valley, and go 
homeward by a tunnel, which leads a waterpipe through 
the higher ground that lies between the valley and 
the barracks. 

Now I do not like tunnels, nor any owly places from 
which light and pure air are excluded ; so, not wishing 
to expose my nervousness, I made the mule my 
ground of objection. 

'^Oh never mind him — Jimmy Chivas knows the 
island better than any of us — she'll find his way, sure 
enough, " said the Sergeant, as he fastened the reins 
to the pommel of the saddle and administered a phan- 
tom kick to Jimmy, who, at the sign, fled precipitately 
down hill to his stable. I felt deserted, and as my 
husband was cmious in mind about the water supply, 
of which as yet we knew nothing, I meekly scrambled 
down after him to the mouth of the tunnel. Here I 
should have preferred to stay and gather a basketful 
of the lovely little ferns and lichens which grew around 
its damp lips, but my guides passed quickly from 
the light into gloom, and I did not wish to be left 
behind. 

At first it was not quite dark, and we could see the 
iron pipe crawling along one side, and the pretty 
green roof of moss and lichen ; but by-and-by we lost 
this encouragement, and were plunged in utter dark- 
ness. The Sergeant marched first — I last; and I 



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c'lr. XIII. In the Tunnel. 167 

begged for the point of David's alpenstock to guide 
me, for I was continually stumbling against the damp^ 
clammy walls of the vault. Neither did David steer 
tis course quite steadily, for his " topee " was re- 
peatedly knocked off, which would not have hap- 
pened had he kept the centre, where the roof was' 
seven feet high. 

Most heartily did I wish the journey over, for I 
grudge even a temporary loss of the most glorious of 
the Gateways of Knowledge ; and in darkness I have 
always a painfully acute realisation of the terrible 
loneliness of the blind. And still more than light do 
I love air, and this little tunnel of 200 yards chilled 
and stifled me. 

"How do you like it?" asked David, when we 
were about the middle of the tunnel. But before I 
could reply the advance-guard answered, '* Oh, it's 
quite easy, sir, except when you chance to meet any- 
thing ! Coming through here, our last captain once 
met a bull, which was rather awkward, as I take it." 

I should think so indeed, and I quite approved of 
the discretion of the gaUant captain, who turned 
and fled before his foe, though David suggested that 
he might have made a spring and vaulted over the 
beast. 

" Yes,^' I added, ** and that might have happened 
to his head which has so often happened to your 
hehnet." 

At last a gleam of light showed ahead, and in a 
few minutes we found ourselves, much to our surprise. 



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1 68 Six Mo7iths in Ascension. ch. xm. 

in the garden of our pretty cottage home. As we 
emerged into light and air again, and looked back 
upon our mysterious path, I read over the entrance, 
*' Sic itur ad astra. Anno Domini, 23 July, 1882.'" 
" Such is the road to the stars ! " I do not believe 
it, nor does any one of the flighty beings who envy the 
"cow that jumped over the moon," and are ever 
longing for a Pegasus to ride along the Milky Way. 

How fresh and pretty the garden looked as the sun 
went down ! We lingered reluctantly under the shade 
of the darkening trees till I felt so light-hearted, that 
only a strong sense of matronly dignity kept me from 
getting into the swing, and sent me within doors to 
pour out tea instead. 



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CHAPTER XIV. 

SUNDAY AT THE MOUNTAIN. 

View from Garden Cottage. — **Und unter den Fiissen ein nebliges 
' Meer."— The Dairy. — Church at the Mountain. — Rest.— The 
Weather Gardens. — Stars versus CahhsLges, 

Next morning, Sunday, we were awakened by the 
novel sound of rain pattering against the window 
panes, and on looking out I saw — ^nothing. A dense 
fog surrounded us, and hid the pretty garden which I 
doubted not was benefiting richly from its temporary 
concealment. 

By the time I had dressed, however, the air was 
somewhat clearer, and when I opened the door of our 
little drawing-room, a curious, perplexing view lay 
before me. Three paces from the door the ground 
went headlong down a precipice of 150 feet, covering 
its fall with Bahama grass, castor-oil trees and shrubs 
of different kinds. Then a rocky shoulder shot out 
from the main head, and on this stood the Moun- 
tain Hospital in a thicket of Port Jackson willows, 
now looking cool and fresh from their morning bath. 
Beyond this another steep descent went sheer down to 
the broad, crater-dotted plain which stretched away to 
Garrison and the sea, and where the sun was now 



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1 70 Six Months in Ascension. ch. xir. 

shining with a fierce light, while the mist still floated 
fitfully above and around us. 

Here the air felt fresh, sweet, and English-like ; 
there it looked stifling and altogether tropical. Here 
the moisture was dripping from every rain-soaked 
shrub, and distilling scent from the single rose-bush 
on which pretty pink buds were bursting into life, heed- 
less of being eclipsed by the regal red blossoms of a 
neighbouring hibiscus : there, among the cinders, the 
parching dust still whirled in the wind, undamped by 
shower or mist, and the long-sufiering Madagascar 
rose (Vinca rosea) gave out no sweetness to the 
breeze. 

The whole scene gave one a curious sensation of 
being in two quarters of the globe at the same time ; 
and, just as I was going to call my husband to enjoy 
the novelty with me, the thick mist again swept round 
the mountain. In a moment all the world below my 
feet was cut off, and I and Garden Cottage seemed to 
be left floating helplessly in a sea of mist. 

Like Schiller's Alpine shepherd, I might have 

sung,— 

"Und untor den Fiissen ein nebliges Meer, 
Erkennt er die Stadte der Menschen nicht melir, 
Durch den Riss nur der Wolken 
Erblickt er die Welt, 
Tief unter den Wassem 
Das griinende Feld." 

But in my case there was no *' griinende Feld." 

Being shut out from the Tropics, I put on my hat 
and proceeded to enjoy the English garden. Not quite 



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CH. XIV. Our Garden. 1 71 

English, however, as I was reminded by the stately 
screw-pine which shaded the north gable of the cottage, 
and by the tall aloes towering above it on the rocks 
behind. But the beautiful scarlet nasturtiums, which 
clambered up tlie rocks, from which the terrace for 
cottage and garden had been hewed, were very homely, 
and so were the stocks and sweet thyme growing by 
the door of an almost empty conservatory. 

Looking down on the garden and clambering nastur- 
tiums, stood another cottage on an upper terrace, 
which in its turn was over-topped by towering aloes 
and craggy heights. It was underneath this terrace 
that the dark tunnel had led us, the previous evening, 
across the shoulder of hill from Breakneck Valley; and 
with this delightful air playing everywhere aroimd, the 
entrance looked, if possible, less inviting than before ; 
so I passed it by, preferring instead, to make more 
intimate acquaintance with its bright little neighbour 
the dairy. 

Hardly less refreshing than the flowers was the 
sight of the mUk-pans. Five starved cows gave, as it 
were under protest, a few pints of milk daily just now, 
for the use of the sick in hospital ; but it was long since 
I had tasted my favourite beverage, and green envy pos- 
sessed me as I peeped into this pretty dairy, embowered 
%in a splendid moon-plant whose snow-white blossoms 
w^ere shedding fragrance on its roof. The lettuces and 
parsnips seemed to grow as I watched them, and I 
thought how nice a salad would look on the breakfast 
table. In short, I felt bewildered with a sense of 



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172 Six Months in Ascension, ch. xiv. 

profusion around, and wondered if it were really true 
that we had left Mars Bay not two days since. 

It was indeed a change, and I was enjoying it tho- 
roughly, when the call of breakfast summoned me in- 
doors. 

In the verandah I found Sam looking very unhappy 
in a thick coat with a broom in his hand ; and instead 
of the usual responsive ** Good morning," he greeted 
me with '* Terrible cold, ma," and a shiver. Indeed 
it did feel cold inside the damp comfortless drawing- 
room, and Sam grinned approbation when I ordered a 
fire. 

We did not expect more of church service here 
than we had been accustomed to have every Sunday 
in the Heliometer tent at Mars Bay. Consequently 
it was a pleasant surprise to hear that next Sunday 
the chaplain was to come up for morning service, and 
that to-day prayers would be read by the farm bailiff 
to the marines, who were already mustering to the 
sound of the rusty beU over the garden gate. When 
the Sergeant came to ask if we would join them, we 
gladly followed him to a bare, dreary-looking room, 
where the men were seated on forms placed by the 
side of a long table. Two chairs were provided for us, 
and the four bare walls enclosed nought besides. 

After so many weeks of lonely Sundays, the pleasure 
of joining with " two or three gathered together in 
His name " refreshed us. It took us away from our- 
selves, and drew our thoughts entirely from the every- 
day work, that was almost too much to us and often 



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CH. XIV, Weather Gardens. 173 

refused to leave our minds free for higher things. 
This was the most restful Sunday we had had since 
coming to Ascension, and our hearts rose up in grati- 
tude for help in past troubles, and for the bright 
pathway of hope laid open before us. 

After service we sat lazily all the morning in the 
ver^,ndah, doing nothing, but enjoying to our heart's 
content the fresh, cool breeze which still carried just 
enough of damp to hold the dust in subjection, though 
the leaves were again rustling in sunlight. With 
half-shut eyes one might have dreamt of an April day 
in England but for one tiling — ^the silence of the 
woods. No clear note from blackbird or mavis inter- 
rupted the chirp, chirp of the grasshopper, or the 
rustling of the wind among the banana leaves ; and 
the canaries we only heard of, but heard not. 

In the afternoon we had a quiet stroll through the 
*' Weather Gardens'* — pleasant walking indeed, after 
our clinker experiences, though the place hardly jus- 
tified the name of " garden." 

Lying on the leeward crest of the hill, which forms 
the western slope of Breakneck VaUey, are a few 
square patches of cultivated ground, surrounded by a 
brushwood of aloes, guavas, Cape gooseberry (P%- 
sali%)y and mulberry trees, and separated from each 
other by grassy paths. It is these patches that are 
here yclept " gardens," but in Scotland we should call 
them a ''croft," and a very unpromising one too, 
notwithstanding plentiful manuring and careftil culti- 
vation. The soil was black with richness, but still 



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1 74 Six Months in Ascension. ch. xiv. 

too dry to yield much, except the persevering sweet 
potato (Convohmlus batatas), which was creeping dili- 
gently over one or two little fields. Some English 
potatoes were just showing above ground in one patch,, 
and another was in course of preparation for planting 
out cabbages — all hopeful signs, resulting from the 
few showers that we had so begrudged at Mars Bay. 

For six months previous to our arrival the soil had 
not even been dug, so hopelessly parched had it 
become ; and a full sense of our selfishness came upon 
us, when we saw how sorely our much-abused rain was 
needed for the general good of the community. Still 
we would not willingly have given up the cloudless 
nights at Opposition for the sake of cabbages; no, 
nor for pine-apples, nor for all the ambrosia in the 
store-houses of the immortal gods ; and, though con- 
trite, we could hardly claim to be repentant. We pro- 
mised, however, to behave more justly in future, and 
to think of the vegetables as well as of the stars, 
when we should retiun to the little white tents that 
were seen glistering far away in the distance. 

From this hill-side we had for the first time a good 
view of the " Eiding-school Crater.*' It stands on 
the western plain, and looked into from above it pre- 
sents the appearance of a cone, from which a horizon- 
tal section has been cut off, and the centre afterwards, 
slightly hollowed out, leaving an elevated circular road 
round the top. 

These curious sights everywhere, stirred up strong 
desires to explore, and as we walked slowly homeward 



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cH. XIV. Desires to Explore. 175 

through the fog, which had come down upon us sud- 
denly, we tried to stretch the hours of our holiday 
week as much as possible, and to fill them with well- 
planned excursions. But circumstances swept away 
many of our Chateau-en-Espagne journeys, including 
the visit to Eiding-school Crater, which, though after- 
wards accomplished, did not form one of our mountain 
excursions. 

A week, or even ten days as we now resolved to 
make it, is so short a time, and so many interesting 
things were to be seen on all sides of us, that we were 
obliged to give up, for the most part, very long walks 
among the lava, in order to enjoy with fresh mind and 
body the more immediate objects of interest, and that 
we might return to Mars Bay rested instead of tired 
by our holiday. 



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CHAPTER XV. 

WHY WE HAD ONLY A GALLON OF WATER. 

The Brandreth Wells. — Failure of the Spring. — Mr. Cross's happy- 
discovery. — A fickle spring. — How the water is collected. — 
Dampiers. — Mulberry Drip. — Duck-Pond Drip. — White Wall 
Drip. — Middleton Drip, 

Ever since our arrival on the island, we had been 
much interested about the water supply, and now that 
we were at the source, we hoped to be able to learn the 
parentage and history of our one gallon .per day. 

We had already seen, peeping aboveground here 
and there, the pipe which we knew conveyed the water 
to Garrison, there to be stored for the use of man and 
beast; but we had seen no spring, and I was delighted 
at a proposal to visit the " Wells " under guidance of 
Captain PhiUimore, who made himself so thoroughly 
acquainted with the all-important system of our water 
supply. 

Starting from Garden Cottage, we again passed 
through the tunnel I have already mentioned; this 
time with lanthorns, which showed it to be worked out 
of compact beds of cinders and ashes, and occasionally 
of clay and trachyte, to which climg green moss and 
lichens. Along one side, just aboveground, an iron 



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cH. XV. The Brandreth Wells. 177 

pipe ran the length of the tunnel, and we did not lose 
sight of it until we found sun-light once more in Break- 
neck Valley. Here we found the two circular wells that 
contributed so largely to our daily gallon of water. 
These are known as the " Brandreth Wells," named 
after Lieutenant Brandreth, E.E., who came " out 
here in 1830 to assist Captain Bates in his anxious 
search for water. With regard to the sinking of these 
wells. Lieutenant Brandreth writes : — 

" During twelve or fourteen months the island had 
been aflBicted with a severe drought, and I found bare 
forty tons (of water) in store. The search for it in the 
low lands had failed ; the springs, or water-drips, instead 
of gushing out plentifully, were scantily trickling, and 
the skies were glorious, but improductive in their un- 
clouded splendour. Under these circumstances I 
pressed for further experiments in boring, and fixed on 
a spot high up in the mountain district, on the windward 
side of the island and at the bottom of a deep ravine, 
the sides of which were eighty feet in height, and 
where the section showed the arrangement of the strata 
to consist of volcanic matter lying on beds of retentive 
clay. The clouds and mist and constant evaporation 
from the sea were evidently arrested by the high land 
and their moisture deposited here ; and the experi- 
ment fully succeeded. At a depth of twenty-five feet 
from the surface we found a spring that for the last 
five years has yielded from four to seven tons daily, 
and has probably averaged about five tons a day 
throughout the year. The question of a supply 



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1 78 Six Months in Ascension. ch. xv. 

of water was thus set at rest," concludes Lieu- 
tenant Brandreth. But the rest seems to have been 
temporary. 

I do not know for how much longer than five years 
the Brandreth spring continued to flow, but it was not 
long, and only a tradition of it remaiiied in 1877, when 
continued drought again urged the Ascensionites to 
renewed eflforts to find water. 

Then there was no sign on the slopes of Break-neck 
Valley to mark the position of the spiing of 1830 — ^the 
wells having long] since been choked up, — ^but after 
some trouble Mr. Cross, the Lieutenant of Marines, 
hit upon it, and found, to the joy of all the inhabitants, 
that water was again flowing to the extent of three 
tons a day. Now the supply had again dwindled down 
to one ton, and the fickle spring was looked upon with 
doubt and suspicion. Indeed, when we saw it I should 
never have thought of calling it a spring at all. I 
should have described it rather as moisture oozing 
from the mountain side. 

The wells penetrate for the most part a light, ashy 
soil, but fortunately at the depth of twenty-five feet 
they strike a layer of clay, barely two inches thick. 
Here is checked the downward course of the surface 
water that has percolated through the loose soil, 
till, arrested by the retentive clay, the precious drops 
ooze out, and, as they drip slowly from their clayey 
shelf, are caught in a cement-lined basin prepared for 
them below. The water collected in the upper well 
flows into the lower one through a narrow gutter, 



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cH. XV. Tanks and Water-Drips. 1 79 

running along a tunnel cut between the two ; and it was 
by means of this tunnel that we were able to get info 
the wells, and not merely to look down upon them 
from the surface of the ground above. 

The lower well is simply a reproduction of the upper 
one. The drip comes from the same little stratum of 
clay, and is in its turn carried off by an underground 
pipe to a large octagon tank a few yards lower down 
the valley. By the side of this tank stands the wind- 
mill we had espied from the Peak. By means of it, 
the water is pumped up to a level sufficient to send 
it into the pipe which runs through the Garden 
Cottage tunnel to the barracks. Thus far on its 
journey, the Break-neck Valley water then flows into 
the main pipe, which has reserve tanks placed along 
its course to Garrison. 

From the northern side of Green Mountain, and 
near its base, other pipes run out to join the main line; 
and on another day Jimmy Chivas carried me down 
the Ramps to explore this source of supply. Here we 
found two large stone-bmlt tanks called " Dampier's " 
and. ** Bates,'* capable of holding respectively 500 and 
812 tons of water ; but these are fed by no steady drip 
such as exists at the " Brandreth Wells," and are 
dependent for their supplies on such surface water as 
falls on the slope above. Both tanks are imcovered, 
and much moisture is thus lost by evaporation. 

A natural gully formst a good catch-water for 
" Dampier's," while a cement-paved channel, laid along 
the mountain side, carries the precarious rain-fall into 

N 2 



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i8o Six Months in Ascension. ch.xv, 

the " Bates " tank ; both, however, were dry when we 
saw them, and the tanks empty. 

At different levels on the same slope as these tanks 
are three little water-drips, falling from a friendly 
seam of compact oxide of iron which seems to extend 
over a considerable area. These are the springs 
supposed to have been found by the famous pirate and 
navigator Dampier, when his vessel Roebuck was 
stranded on the island in 1701 ; and tradition says 
that he was led to this happy discovery by following 
the footsteps of a wild goat when he was almost dying 
of thirst. 

The spring next below the tanks is called the 
" Mulberry Drip,'* from the solitary mulberry tree 
growing close beside it — ^the best of its kind I had seen 
on the island; and, on the hot afternoon that we visited 
Dampier's, I heartily relished some of its juicy fruit. 
The "Duck Pond Drip," and "White Wall Drip," 
are a few yards lower down, and it was quite refreshing 
to watch the clear drops of water trickling from the 
damp hill-side into the troughs, from which the over- 
flow is carefully sent off in branch lines to join the 
main pipe on its way to Gamson. There St. George's 
tank receives all contributions, and is open for more. 

One more source of supply — " Middleton Drip " — 
exists near the centre of the island ; but analysts 
have pronounced the water here to be unwholesome. 
It tastes slightly saltish, and leaves a bitter flavour on 
the tongue. Partly on this account, and partly be- 
cause the drip is situated in an almost inaccessible 



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cH. XV. Meagre Water Supply. i8i 

spot, no pipe has been laid from it ; but the water in 
the open trough placed there is very grateful to thirsty 
sheep and goats, as well as to the mules and donkeys at 
large on the clinker. 

Excepting the insufl&cient condenser, more often 
useless than not, the catch-waters formed by the roofs 
of the mountain cottages, are, I think, the only other 
means of supplying water to the human and brute 
population on Ascension ; and, after our visit to the 
Mountain, we no longer wondered why we had only a 
gallon of water per day — ^we wondered rather why we 
had so much. 



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CHAPTER XVI. 

TRIPS FROM GARDEN COTTAGE. 

In search of Silver Ore Run.— The "Wrong Road.— Empty water-courses. 
—Jimmy Chivas.— The Mountain Hospital- The Mountain 
Cemetery.- The " Ingle Neuk."— Excursion to "Weather Post.— 
Cricket Valley. — ^A gorse bush. — Caught in the fog. —Boatswain 
Bird Island. — Ascension game. — A novel drinking cup. — The 
end of the holiday. — ^Tho wizard-wanded mist. — ^Mars Bay and 
work again. 

After our curiosity respecting wells, pipes, drips, 
and tanks, had been pretty well satisfied, the crater- 
exploring mania seized us again; and one fine afternoon 
my husband and I, accompanied by Mrs. Phillimore, 
set out for " Cricket Valley," one of the mysterious 
basins lying among the plateaux on the eastern part of 
the island. David had walked there the day before, 
and had picked up in one of the furrows or runs near 
the valley, some beautiful specimens of carbonate of 
iron, th6 bright sparkle of which has given to the 
spot where they are found, the name of the " Silver 
Ore Kun." 

It was this silver that we now went in search of. 
Making use of Jimmy Chivas alternately, Mrs. Philli- 
more and I followed David round the north side of 



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CH.XV1. Round the Mountain. . 183 

the mountain along what we confidently supposed ta 
be Elliot's Path. But we now found, that when 
Elliot's Path gets round to the north side of the moun- 
tain, it becomes Rupert's Path — ^in honour of some 
other admiral, no doubt — and with the effect of need- 
lessly complicating the geography of the little island. 
However, it is the same narrow moimtain way with a 
new name ; and along Rupert's Path we now proceeded 
towards Cricket Valley, admiring as we went the rock- 
hewn gulleys sliding from our feet down to the plain 
below, and hiding in their deep gloom, aloes and 
banana trees. 

By-and-by we struck off northward from the main 
peak, across the shoulder on which stands North-east 
Cottage. This tiny dwelling, intended for a shepherd, 
was tenantless, and was by no means so bright and 
homelike as it had appeared to us in the distance. The 
broad ridge behind it could no longer, by any stretch 
of imagination, be called a meadow — still it was grassy 
almost as much as stony, and that was an advantage 
not to be despised. On the south side of this ridge 
two farrows ran eastward. Here I saw our guide look 
doubtful, and he ended by choosing the wrong path. 
Before we got within sight of Cricket Valley, a drop of 
several feet told of a former waterfall, and convinced 
David of his mistake. It was the other run that con- 
tained the " silver," which it was now too late to 
seek for. 

The object of our walk had thus escaped us ; never- 
theless we enjoyed seeing what we had not come to see 



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1 84 Six Months in Ascension. ch.xvi. 

—possibly all the more that we could season our enjoy- 
ment with a good grumble. 

All along the now dry run we were much struck 
with the evident signs of water in every direction. 
Not merely passing torrents of heavy tropical rains, 
but permanent mountain streams, strong and rapid, 
must have flowed here in former days. At the foot of 
the water-worn rock, which pointed out our mistaken 
way, lay a large grey stone, hollowed out in the centre, 
where the falling water had swiiled against it; and 
along the sides of the smooth-bottomed course, where 
the bare edges of strata were exposed to view, we 
saw layer upon layer of disintegrated lava and ash, 
which had been swept down from the higher ground 
and converted by the powerful agency of running water 
into a kind of soft sandstone, or a loosely compacted 
conglomerate. 

How fire and water do vex and disquiet our wavering 
earth rind; but, like the disturbances of armed Europe, 
they serve to maintain the balance of power, and keep 
us from sinking to the dull level of peace and 
plain ! 

This baffled excursion was a delightfiil one. As 
we again wended our way round the mountain side, 
the setting sun, shining through a slight haze, showed 
the hills and valleys between us and the sea in a soft 
pink light, which varied in intensity as the fog rose or 
thickened, and gave an air of gentle mystery to the 
red symmetrical cones, that had looked at mid-day as 
if they were fresh from a turning-lathe. Almost in 



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CH. XVI. Two Mules. 185 

darkness we reached our verandah, glad to follow 
the sun to rest, and to prepare for another day's 
ramble. 

It was now Thursday, the sixth day of our holiday, 
and we devoted its cool hours to visiting the little 
hospital which stands on the terrace next below the 
one occupied by Garden Cottage. Straight down the 
face of the hill, a short-cut footpath runs between 
the cottage and the hospital, at an angle of 40°. I 
did not fancy it, and we chose rather the more easy 
cart-road by the Ramps, taking Jimmy Chivas to help 
us to get up again, or if need be, to show us the way ; 
for Jimmy had been forty years on Ascension, and 
thoroughly understood its geography. Taught by 
the hard experience of hunger and thirst on the 
clinker, when a superabundance of horses or a 
scarcity of food had caused him to be turned out to 
cater for himself, Jimmy Chivas could find the moun- 
tain stable from every crater, gully and precipice on the 
island; and moreover, to him was accorded the dignity 
of ** oldest inhabitant.'* 

But a still more distinguished mule than Jimmy 
toiled daily up the steep Ramps in the mountain 
team — a historical animal — the mule on which Sir 
Garnet Wolseley rode into Coomassie. When he was 
pointed out to me, I regarded the hero pityingly, as 
one that had seen better days and ought, if every one 
had his due, to enjoy perpetual clover and an unhar- 
nessed old age. 

During that Ashantee war in which our mule played 



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1 86 Six Months in Ascension. ch.xvi. 

such an honourable part, the mountain hospital had 
had its twenty iron bedsteads fully occupied ; but at 
the time we visited it, the wards, both officers' and 
men*s, were empty; and I almost said, "What a 
pity ! " Not that I wished the healthy sick, only that 
those who were sick might have had the benefit of 
such a large airy room as this, with everything fresh 
and sweet-smelling around, a constant temperate cli- 
mate, and the perfect quiet ensured by the isolated 
situation. 

On a hill, apart and alone — with no dwelling near 
it save the quiet dwelling of the dead — ^the hospital is 
surrounded by its prettily laid out garden, now much 
burnt up, and principally dependent on Port Jackson 
willows and Madagascar rose-bushes for its verdure. 
Dotted here and there about the verandahs are a few 
green tubs from which tiny mignonette leaves were 
peeping up ; and in front of the principal door two 
handsome aloes reared their stately stems, protected 
at the base by a goodly forest of briUiant prickly- 
edged leaves. 

Having inspected the hospital and its surroundings 
with much interest, we then visited the cemetery 
which lay close by, hidden in a thicket of willows. 
Most of the graves were simply square, stone-built 
mounds bearing no inscription ; but five of them had 
black wooden memorials at their heads, telling the sad 
tale of young manly lives cut off in their prime by 
yellow fever. A small white marble cross marked 
an infant's resting-place; and another larger cross. 



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CH. XVI. A Quiet Grave-yard. 187 

formed of the island lime-stone and resting on a 
roughly-hewn block of lava, bore a name well-known 
and loved in Ascension. 

I had not thought so sweet a spot as this willow- 
shaded rock could have been found for the dead in 
the dusty, windy, sun-baked island; and, had the 
graves been turf-covered instead of stone-covered, and 
the paths been strewn with daisies instead of cinders, 
one might have been content to sleep the last sleep 
thus far from home. 

The other cemetery, near Garrison, we had not 
visited, but I retained a painful recollection of the 
ghastly white tombstones on the slope of Cross Hill, 
and they certainly contributed in no small degree to 
form my dismal first impression of Ascension. " Well, 
what does it matter? As well there as here," say 
Philosophy and Common Sense; and Sentiment meekly 
bows her head to the wisdom she cannot controvert, 
hiding in her heart the while a longing for a sheltered 
grave, and whispering a prayer to mother Earth to 
deck the dead with her choicest flowers. 

Much to our regret, so far as exploring was con- 
cerned, Friday was a lost day. The fog was per- 
sistent, entirely shutting out all view, and occasional 
showers drenched the long grass and brushwood along 
the edges of the narrow mountain paths. So we had 
to give up our intended excursion to the Eiding-school 
Crater, and content ourselves by the " ingle neuk," 
where a nice at-home feeling took possession of us, 
giving extra relish to books and work. 



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1 88 Six Months in Ascension. ch.xvl 

David had gone to Garrison the night before, to 
see his two months' packet of letters safely oflf to 
England, and I was very much relieved when he re- 
turned at mid-day with the news that the Mail had 
gone — this time with our home letters snug in her 
post-bag. His other news was not so cheering. 
While enjoying a swim in the large salt-water bath 
at Garrison, the imaccustomed motion had again 
strained his weak knee, which was now slightly in- 
flamed, and needed rest. 

This accident imhappily deprived him of a share 
in our next day's excursion to Weather Post — ^the 
culminating point of the high ground to eastward, — 
where we hoped to be able to see Boatswain Bird 
Island, as well as the little bit of coast not dis- 
cernible from the Peak. It was very disappointing, 
but this being positively our last day (except Sun- 
day), and not altogether foggy, we could not afford 
to spend it by the fireside. So Mrs. Phillimore 
and I decided to undertake the expedition by our- 
selves, and set out, under favour of a cloudy sky, 
guided by the Sergeant, and again assisted by Jimmy 
Chivas. 

The first part of our journey was what I have 
already described in telling of our search for Silver 
Ore Run, round the north side of the momitain by 
Rupert's Path, across to North-east Cottage, then 
along the ridge behind it, this time keeping Cricket 
yalley well on the right. Looking at it from the 
Peak, I had flattered myself that this high ground^ 



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CH. XVI. Climbing Weather Post. . 1 89 

which is not very much lower than Weather Post itself, 
continued the whole way; but a closer inspection 
showed me that the ridge behind North-east Cottage 
sweeps down into a deep valley at the foot of Weather 
Post, and before we could ascend, into this we must 
first descend, at an angle of 30°, with loose stones 
following at our heels. 

Jimmy Chivas was unburdened, and, with our guide, 
led the van, while Mrs. Phillimore and I followed at 
two points slightly apart, neither of us wishing to send 
a rain of stones upon the other. These stones were 
mostly detached pieces of trachyte, many of which 
were covered with a beautiful saffron-coloured lichen, 
— ^the only vegetation to be seen, until we came into 
the lap of the valley. There we found a few plants of 
the thistle-like Mexican Poppy (Argemone meadcana), 
and one or two bunches of Polypodium trichomanoides, 
hiding among the larger stones. 

At the bottom of the ravine we were still high above 
Cricket Valley, which now lay directly below us on the 
south ; and we were glad indeed to have our curiosity 
regarding it somewhat satisfied, without the ordeal of 
a further descent and semi-suffocation among its sun- 
baked rocks. 

Darwin says, " The longer axis of Cricket Valley 
is connected with a north-east and south-west line of 
fissure, and is three-fifths of a nautical mile in 
length." 

Its sides appeared to us nearly perpendicular, and 
at least 400 feet in height, except at one point where 



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IQO Six Months in Ascension. ch. x^^. 

descent is possible — easyy I was told — ^but this I would 
rather not assert without the authority of experience. 
Not a scrap of verdure clothes the barren slopes of 
this deep-lipped basin. Some patches of wild tomatoes 
grow on the flat ground at the bottom, which is so 
level and so roomy that one might suppose Cricket 
Valley to have received its name from its natural 
adaptability to the exercise of our favourite English 
game. But it is due to another characteristic of 
the place — one that is readily discovered by any- 
one who has walked though it in the noonday, 
and listened to the noisy chirping of its myriads of 
crickets. 

Scrambling up the side. of Weather Post, we met 
with no sign of vegetation, except some specimens of 
the curious club-moss (Psilotum triquetrum), until we 
came very near to the top. Then my eyes were glad- 
dened by the sight of a magnificent gorse bush in fall 
bloom, and I proposed to rest under it, until the Ser- 
geant should return for me with Jimmy, after having 
taken Mrs. PhUlimore to the top. But I saw the fog 
coming, and soon followed on foot. Too late how- 
ever ! it was on the top of Weather Post before me. 
This was annoying, and we could do nothing but sit 
down and wait, with what patience we might, for the 
chance of a peep. 

The Weather Post, about 1,000 feet lower than the 
Peak, is of a peculiar form, somewhat resembling 
that of a saddle — indented in the middle and ele- 
vated at both ends. I did not enjoy my seat at all. 



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OH. XVI. Through the Mist. 191 

The fog was so thick that "you might have cut 
it with a knife," as we say in Scotland, and our hats 
and gowns were soon drenched. More than this, the 
feeling of being so utterly shut out from all that was 
bright and sunny made me " eerie." But just as we 
had decided to go, fearing the danger of sitting longer 
in this vapour bath, the white coast-line glimmered in 
sunshine, and the little hills and valleys suddenly 
shook oflf their thick covering. Yet I looked in 
vain for Boatswain Bird Island. It was still invi- 
sible. 

When the mist cleared, we found that we had taken 
up our position in the seat of the saddle, with the 
raised ends to right and left of us ; so I climbed some 
little way through scrub and loose stones to the 
northern and higher elevation, and then the mysterious 
bit of coast was revealed. Here was Boatswain 
Bird Island at last, about a furlong from the main- 
land, with the sunlight streaming white upon it, 
while we were still in gloom — a bright picture set 
in a dingy frame. A miniature islet indeed — a rock, 
and nothing more, treeless and flowerless, but I can- 
not say lifeless, for the thousands of Boatswain Birds 
and other sea-fowl which hover about it, whirling and 
screaming, give a semblance of life to the whole 
mass. 

As we stood enjoying the strange scene, the fog 
suddenly blotted it out, and, fearing to lose our waj'' 
should the cloud grow denser, we hurried down, so as 
to get over the worst part of the road as quickly as 



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192 Six Months in Ascension. ch. xvi. 

possible. By careful choosing we found it easier than 
when outward bound, and, with the help of Jimmy and 
our alpenstocks, we soon reached once more the ridge 
behind North-east Cottage. 

Here, for the first time, I saw Ascension guinea-fowl. 
These are now very scarce, although at one time, it is 
said, as many as 1,600 have been shot in a season. 
Indeed, notwithstanding much care, Ascension can 
hardly be said to be famous for its game. Some goat 
stalking there is — nearly as arduous a sport as chamois 
hunting, with much less reward ; rabbits too, are to 
be found occasionally ; and wild cats, which I believe 
^ do not come under the game laws ! A short time 
before our arrival partridge shooting commenced, but 
some lucky man having shot a brace, this was more 
than the preserves could stand, so the shooting was 
closed, and my husband's gun lay unused in its case. 
Had he been here now, it would have provided a 
dainty dish to set before a couple of famishing 
ramblers. How hungry I was ! and thirsty ! So 
thirsty, that the Sergeant fetched me, from the tank at 
North-east Cottage, a grateful draught of water in an 
earthenware jug, which bore the rather startling in- 
scription, "Brigg's Dipping Composition, measure 
for ten sheep!" but I. shut my eyes and drank. 
In strange countries one had best have no pre- 
judices. 

The mountain path was tiring, especially with the 
depressing atmosphere of fog which was now worse 
than ever, and we thoroughly enjoyed a lazy after- 



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Gu. XVI. A Lazy Afternoon. 193 

noon, chatting over our morning's excursion and re- 
tailing all its little incidents to David, He had been 
busy, in our absence, putting the Barracks' clock to 
rights ; and, being much relieved of the pain in his 
knee, felt rewarded for his self-denial in the matter of 
crater-climbing. 

Another Sunday, and our last day at the Moun- 
tain. Foggy too, and showery, so that we were not 
able to go to the summer-house, where, with our 
books, we had purposed to spend the afternoon and 
enjoy a fresh view. On such a day as this, every 
place was alike viewless, and the preference was 
certainly in favour of one that could be reached with 
dry feet ; so we remained constant to the verandah of 
Garden Cottage. 

Much was left undone and imseen, but such rest 
and pleasure had this one week of change afforded us, 
that I hoped another gap might be foimd somewhere 
in the work before its completion. I hoped this, yet I 
did not lean very heavily on my hope, knowing how 
slight was its foundation. Could the Heliometer have 
been transplanted to the Mountain, that would have 
been indeed delightful! But better to have left it 
behind in our dear misty Scotland than to take it up 
among the clouds of Ascension ; and, remembering the 
happiness and satisfaction that Mars Bay had given to 
us, my feelings of gratitude revived, and reconciled me 
to return. 

Green Mountain was the "bon camarade" who 
laughed and jested with us in our hours of idleness 



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194 ^^^ Months in Ascension. ch. xvi. 



and mirth. Mars Bay was the tried friend who was 
with us in work and anxiety, and whose bright skies 
had helped us to the happy haven of " Something 
Done." Back, then, to the good friend, and without 
regret, only hoping for another frolic among the clouds 
at another time. 

On Monday morning we started homeward imder a 
pouring rain. The mountain team preceded us with 
our luggage which was protected from the wet by a 
tarpaulin, and on the top of it lay quite a little 
garden of radishes and turnip-tops. They were still 
drinking in moisture, in an honest endeavour to 
keep fresh until they should relieve the vegetable- 
starved Garrison with the first green food they had 
tasted for many months — green turtle of course 
excepted ! 

We followed in comic procession. David mounted 
on " Lucky," a handsome grey donkey ; while I, with 
my big umbrella and numerous shawls waving in the 
wind, made poor Jimmy Chivas look as if a balloon 
were preparing to rise into the air with him! He 
evidently did not like the situation, for his antics in 
going down the Bamps slightly heated me. Never- 
theless, the ride was an enjoyable one, especially when 
the rain ceased, which it did soon after we started, and 
the low clouds played all sorts of fantastic games with 
the little red hills below. 

During this visit to Green Mountain, we had never 
ceased to wonder at and admire the marvellous 
effect produced, when objects at a distance are viewed 



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CH. XVI. Going Down the Ramps, 195 

under a strong Kght, while all immediatel}'' aroimd 
lies in subdued shade. To some extent we had seen 
this in the Highlands of Scotland ; but there the sim 
is so much less powerful, that the force of contrast is 
not so strong and the mist-clouded landscape is less 
weird. But everywhere when such a scene presents 
itself, the same thought strikes one — ^how tame and un- 
interesting would all scenery grow, without the fitful, 
wizard-wanded mist ! How tired would the eye be- 
come of the most beautiful landscape lying in perpetual 
simshine, with a horizon ever well defined ! But let 
the veil-like mist come, and all is changed. What was 
plain before, is now bewildering and bewitching — what 
was prose, is now poetry ; the hard outlines become 
soft and mysterious, distance is felt and the landscape 
is enriched by atmospheric effects. 

So it seemed to us during our morning ride down 
the steep side of Green Mountain. In coming up, we 
had seen a sharply-cut sea-coast edging a barren plain, 
which lay dull and tame under monotonous grey clouds. 
Now the scene was changed. Sea, sky and plain were 
lost in each other — changeful in form and colour. At 
one time the thin mist, floating in detached masses 
over the sea, flecked the blue water with fleecy clouds, 
making it seem as if sea were sky; and the horizon 
line losing itself on the mist-chequered land, made the 
little ships in Clarence Bay appear to sail, phantom- 
like, among the clouds. 

By the time we had descended to level ground our 
fairy pictures were fading fast under the light of a 



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1 96 Six Months in Ascension. ch. xvr. 

glaring sun, and, before we reached Garrison, whirl- 
ing dust and parching thirst chased away the romance 
of the morning. But only for the time — she followed 
us with fairy footsteps to Mars Bay, and was with us 
in our tents that night, banishing fatigue and giving 
new zest to work. 



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CHAPTEE XVII, 

MARS BAY WITHOUT A COOK. 

Triangulation of Mars stars. — Our piteous case. — A new galley slave. 
— Cooking under difficulties.— Sam's method. — ^A Marine to the 
rescue. — Sam and his child-book. — My pupiL — Daily work. — 
H.M.S. Boxer, — Sea-sick guests — A boat upset. — Surf navigation. 

Fortunately the clouds did not follow us, and the 
triangulation of the Mars stars now advanced apace. A 
week of lovely evenings, and fresh strength to use them 
— ^what more could the heart of astronomer desire ? 
Alas ! this was Mars Bay, and not Arcadia ! I can- 
not think why the poet says, 

" Man wants but little here below." 

It seems to me that man, and woman too, wants a 
very great deal ; and the beauty of the universe and 
the contemplation of the glory of far-off worlds, what 
consolation do they give, when the kitchen-chimney 
smokes, when a tooth aches or a new shoe pinches ? 

" Is life worth living ? " asks one of our modem 
philosophers, and another answers, " That depends on 
the liver." True, oh Punch. Then why should we 
sneer if a man fears indigestion as a mortal foe, and 



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1 98 Six Months in Ascension. ch. xvu. 

the heart of woman fails when a good cook falls sick 
in the desert where there is none to replace him ? 

Such piteous case was ours ! Hill fell a victim to 
severe rheumatism at this time, and woe is me ! I had 
never attended cooking classes at South Kensington. 

Although we did not know it at the time, our cook 
had been originally invalided here for this very malady, 
caught, like every evil thing, on the Gold Coast ; and 
the damp air of the Mountain had imfortunately 
brought on a relapse. He struggled with it bravely 
for some days, hoping that the dry atmosphere of Mars 
Bay would undo the mischief. But it was of no use ; 
the pain grew worse and worse, and within a fortnight 
after our return from Green Moimtain he was in hos- 
pital. We were sorry for Hill, and sorry too for our- 
selves —there was no other cook on the island, and I 
was doomed to the *' galley." 

I have before explained somewhere, that ** galley *' 
is the nautical equivalent for " kitchen ; '* but our 
galley bore about as much resemblance to a bright, 
pan-bedecked kitchen, as a rubbish heap bears to a 
trimly kept garden ; and my appetite was not improved 
by frequent visits to it. 

I have often wondered whether a certain amount of 
dust and untidiness be conducive to good cooking, and 
on the whole I am inclined to think that they are. At 
least, on the few occasions that I have had a man-cook, 
the messes have been more satisfactory than when a 
female sovereign held sway o'er pots and pans, but then 
I preferred not to see the process nor the sphere of 



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cir. XVII. An Unpleasant Kitchen. 199 

action, as that materially affected my enjojonent of the 
result. 

And, besides good dimiers and dirty pans, there is 
another fact that I have observed in connection with 
male cooks — and it is that dinner is always ready and 
does not suffer from delay. The unexpected arrival of 
tlie hungry master, or his mipunctual retm'n from 
work, was wont to throw my tidy little Scotch cook into 
a fever of excitement. The result was dire ! stony- 
hearted potatoes, or potatoes of pulp half-dissolved 
with weeping over their unhappy doom ! But to these 
untidy, careless ones, things seem more accommo- 
dating, and I am puzzled to find the reason. I should 
iave been right glad to know it when my cook at Mars 
Bay fell ill, and I found myseK suddenly called upon 
to make turtle-soup and condensed milk puddings — 
two branches of culinary art which had been omitted 
in my education. Nor had I learned how to keep my 
temper over a cooking-stove with a tropical sun over- 
head, while centipedes and cockroaches disported 
themselves in pots and pans, and the lively breeze 
kept up a playful game with the clinker dust among 
my cups and plates. Faugh ! I felt half tempted to 
condemn my poor husband to " Crosse and Blackwell " 
for the rest of our stay. But anything is better than 
failure, and by Sam's help I got over the prime diffi- 
<5ulties of the first days, at the expense of considerable 
loss of temper perhaps, but that I try to consider as 
so much capital invested in the good cause of sympathy 
with irascible cooks in the future ! 



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200 Six Months in Ascension, ch. xvn. 



Unfortunately for astronomy but fortunately, for 
gastronomy, some days of cloudy weather soon 
set in, and the galley became more tolerable for 
the poor slaves. Sam grew quite elate at the trust 
reposed in him, and if his efficiency did not equal 
his zeal on all occasions, the merriment caused bj^ 
his mistakes prevented oiu: digestion from suflfering 
by them. 

One habit he had of which I foimd it very difficult 
to cure him. I would say after breakfast, "Now^ 
Sam, this joint will require about two hours in the 
oven." 

" Vera good, ma'," says Sam; and when I go into 
the kitchen, perhaps an hour afterwards, I find the 
meat slowly cooling on the table, and Sam stretched 
peacefully on the floor, with his head enveloped in a 
red pocket-kandkerchief. 

** Put him in little while — ^take him out — put him in 
'gin now," is the answer to my remonstrances, Sam 
being fully persuaded that if the meat be done, the time 
of ** doing " is immaterial, or, if there is an advantage, 
it is in being done by instalments ! 

Well, Sam and I did our best ; but three days a-week 
he had to go to Garrison for fresh provisions, leaving 
me on these occasions maid-of-all-work, and I was. 
very thankftd indeed when a private of marines imder^. 
took to come and " do roast and boil " for us. Then 
we got on smoothly, as I had no longer to stand over 
the kitchen fire, but could prepare puddings or tarts 
in the dining-tent coolly and comfortably. And one 



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CH. XVII. Sam at his Studies. 201 

very good result was brought about by this contre* 
temps in the galley. 

I have said that Sam's favourite position was lying 
stretched on the dusty floor with his head wrapped in 
a handkerchief, but on one occasion I found his head 
lacking its wrapper, and Sam busily engaged with a 
book* I was rather surprised, but had a suspicion that 
Master Sam was acting a little part and trying to pass 
for a " scholar,** as his countrymen are so fond of 
doing. But, watching him quietly as I rolled out the 
bread, I began to see that he was really engrossed in 
his task, and evidently puzzled by it. 

" What are you reading so busily, Sam ? ** I asked. 

" Child book, ma* — me want to learn.** 

And 1 actually found the poor fellow struggling with 
" Jack is a good boy,** " Tom is a bad boy,** and other 
brilliant specimens of rhetoric, such as are to be met 
with in the early stages of learning the English lan- 
guage. He read me a short paragraph, slowly and 
jerkingly, but without a mistake, and could spell a few 
words of two letters. 

I asked who had taught him. " No one, ma*— me 
learn meself— me want to learn." 

The answer aflfected me strangely, and humbled me- 
I felt convicted of such exceeding selfishness — such 
neglect of those around me — so ashamed of my want of 
sympathy with this poor negro, whose perseverance 
and striving after higher things placed him at once on 
a level with all men who are toiling with him honestly 
along the highway of knowledge in pursuit of truth* 



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202 Six Months in Ascension. oh. xvn. 

Sam, with his " child book/' demanded more of my 
respect than I can yield to any man, however highly 
placed in the world, who lets the God-given soil of the 
mind lie untilled, and knows not that " divine discon- 
tent '* which stirs the soul to work out its own perfect- 
ness, and to strive always onward and upward to the 
feet of its Divine Creator. In little as in much, the 
struggle is ever a noble one, and to see it in a neigh- 
bour whom you have hitherto looked upon as an in- 
ferior, teaches a rare lesson of universal sympathy and 
toleration. 

In all humility I now took Sam, who had already 
been my teacher, to be my pupil, and, I would venture 
to hope, it resulted in our mutual gain and satisfaction. 
It was uphill work at first, and I found much diflftculty 
in conveying to my pupil any notion of soimd. 

Sam*s idea was that c-a-t might just as well spell 
^* dog'* as " cat." His ear could detect no difference, 
but his eye was more discriminating, and his memory 
excellent. Moreover, it was a foreign tongue to him, 
and very often the words, when uttered, conveyed no 
idea to his mind. 

One day I asked him what ** word " meant ? " Me 
not know," was the answer. Then I pointed to 
*' sheep,*' and said, " There, that's a word," and after 
that Sam always would insist on calling " sheep " 
*' word," or vice versa. This was partly my fault, but 
as I improved, Sam improved, and we soon got on 
rapidly, notwithstanding that some time was neces- 
sarily lost by Sam's constant query, "That right. 



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Day by Day. 203 



ma' ? " and his contortions and exclamations of delight 
mth himself when he foimd the guess a happy one. 

How full the days grew at Mars Bay! Amateur 
cooking after breakfast, followed by Sam's lesson for 
an hour ; then my own lesson, for David was giving 
me his help towards learning something of geology. 
After this there was needlework, ironing, or some 
needful " tidying " to be done, before our invariable 
2 o'clock luncheon of lime juice and biscuits. 

In the drowsy afternoons I would read aloud for an 
hour or two, something lively and interesting — ^this 
was our daily bon-bon, and it daily grew sweeter. 

Besides this, I had a good deal of [copying to do. 
All the observations had to be written out in duplicate 
for transmission to the Eoyal Astronomical Society by 
the next mail, and it was necessary for me to do part 
€very day so as to keep abreast with the night work. 
Then the evening walk on the beach, letter and journal 
ivriting, my own reading, and occasional visitors 
:filled the short days to overflowing, and very happily. 
Had it not been that we needed the morning hours to 
make up the sleep lost in star-gazing, I think we 
should not have let slip unused the two most charming 
hours in a tropical day — ^from 6 to 8 a.m. ; but as the 
summer advanced, an increase of flies and the intense 
light in the tents made a noontide siesta no luxury, 
and we were wont to be sad sluggards in the morning. 

Since the departure of the Cygnet late in August, no 
ship brought fresh faces to cheer us until the arrival 
of the Boxer, which came into harbour towards the 



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204 Six Months m Ascension, ch. xvn. 

end of October. Then for some weeks we were 
enlivened, even at Mars Bay, by occasional visits from 
her officers, whose pleasant society was a delightful 
variation in our life. 

On one occasion a party of them, with one of our 
island officers, were unfortunately overtaken by rollers 
on their way to spend a day with us, and landed at 
Mars Bay with great difficulty, looking strangely white 
and woe-begone. Was it fear ? Impossible ! Was 
it sea-sickness? I dare not say. The doctor con- 
fessed to it, to be sure, but with the others it was 
biliousness — the sun — anything — everything — except 
sea-sickness. A few hours however on terra Jirma and 
the alarming symptoms disappeared; but the rollers 
continued throughout the day, and our guests were 
persuaded to return to Garrison by land. 

The little bay was in a whirl of unrest, and when 
the coxswain, who had brought the party ashore in the 
dingey, was sculling out again to the boat, he had a 
narrow escape with his life, poor fellow. At least so it 
seemed to me, although the sailors were less excited by 
an event of such common occurrence on this surf- 
beaten shore. 

During the income of the rollers, there occur short 
periods of comparative calm, at intervals of ten 
minutes or more, which must be taken advantage of 
skilftdly, to escape to the smooth water beyond. But 
our coxswain, less experienced in "roller-work " than 
the Kroo boys^ was impatient and pushed off a little too 
soon. The consequence was that a great wave, rear- 



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An Accident. 205 



iug its curling crest to sea-ward of him, and breaking 
before it reached the shore, poured itself into the 
dingey, which was upset in the twinkling of an eye, 
and the coxswain was washed into the bay, 

Graydon, who was standing on the beach, rushed to 
his rescue, and then for a few moments both dis- 
appeared. I became breathless, and thought of sharks 
with a chilly dread. But it was only the capsized 
dingey that had got in their way ; and presently the 
men scrambled ashore, none the worse for their adven- 
ture, except that Graydon had a pretty severe cut on 
the shoulder, where the dingey had struck him. 

The Boxer had come to us viA St. Helena, from the 
Niger Expedition, for provisions and repairs, and to 
recruit her fever-stricken crew. A short time before, 
she had been employed in the blockade of Dahomey, 
while the king was preparing his indemnity of palm- 
oil for offended England; consequently her sailors 
knew too much of surf and rollers. During the palm- 
oil season, I am told that the average loss from these 
causes, on the coast of Dahomey, is a native a day, 
despite their ingenious surf-boats and the rare skill of 
their brave crews. How many of our luxuries are 
truly ** lives o' men ! " 



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CHAPTEE XVIII. 

WIDE-AWAKE FAIR. 

Garrison festivities. — "Wide-awake, Wide-awake!" — Sterna fulU 
^Tuwa.— Ascension theories about "Wide-awakes." — "The Fair." 
— Egg-^thering. — ^A gallant defence. — Large consumers. — The 
lime-bnmer's failing appetite. — Ipomaea maritima. — ^A crusty- 
cook. — His tender feelings. — " Polly's" departure. — Marines and 
Blue-jackets. — A sensitive creature. 

The Boxer remained with us until the 17th of 
November, 

Some days before she left, David and I set out to 
Garrison one afternoon, on pleasure bent, and foimd 
the croquet ground, the aforetime site of our Observa- 
tory, converted into a lawn-tennis ground. Generally 
speaking, at 4 p.m. Garrison is dead, to all outward 
appearance — ^the sail-cloth blinds are still drawn round 
the verandahs, and nothing of life stirs abroad. But 
to-day there was life, without doubt, in front of Com- 
modore's Cottage, and it struck fresh and charming 
upon us, in contrast to the solitude we had left 
behind. 

Captain Alington of the Boxer, who had for the 
present taken up his quarters at Commodore's Cottage, 
was the prime mover of this lawn-tennis ; the hospitable 



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cH. XVIII. Wide-awake Fair. 207 

dispenser of tea to the combatants, and the active 
promoter of whatever healthful amusement gave plea- 
sure to his junior officers, and to the few young people 
on board the Ascension. The spirit of dissipation 
seized upon us, and as a covering of cloud kindly pro- 
mised to hide our folly from the contemptuous stars, we 
threw off the " Sun's Parallax" for a night, and gave 
ourselves up to mirth and revelry. The officers of the 
Boxer being accomplished players on wind and 
stringed instruments, we actually succeeded in getting 
up a dance ; a thing unheard of in the annals of the 
island, and the few ladies did excellent duty to their 
numerous partners. 

Next day David returned to work, while I remained 
behind, with the intention of joining a Garrison party 
in a proposed excursion the following afternoon to 
Wide-awake Fair, which was now at its noisiest. 

Wide-awake Fair is a puzzling cognomen, and sug- 
gested to me, when I first heard it, a scene very unlike 
the real one. "Fair" created a mental picture of 
busy trafficking; puppet shows and penny-a-peeps ; 
** Sweetie-wives " and stalls of ginger-bread ; dancing 
bears and barrel-organs ; lads with blue bonnets and 
Sunday coats, and lassies "blythe and bonnie'* carry- 
ing off their loads of *' fairings ** with gay laughter and 
merry jesting. And "Wide-awake?'* Perhaps the 
trafficking without the jesting, and instead of North- 
coimtry lads and lasses, keen-eyed, swarthy Jews, 
intent on their pound of flesh. But not on Ascension 
could such transactions be possible, and the real 



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fmmm 



208 Six Months in Ascension. ch. xmi. 

" Wide-awake Fair " turned out to be something very 
different. 

*' Wide-awake ! Wide-awake ! '* is the response of 
thousands of baby birdies to the encouraging cry 
of their mothers — " Come here ! Come here ! ** in 
the lessons of first flight. The noise they make is 
certainly *'fair'' like, hence the names *' Wide-awake" 
(Sterna fuliginosa) and " Wide-awake Fair." 

During our short and busy stay at Ascension, it was 
unfortunately not possible for us to study the habits 
of these birds. This I regret, the more that the popu- 
lar stories about them vary, and, as far as I have been 
able to discover, natural history is. provokingly silent 
on the subject. 

Howard Saunders, F.L.S., F.Z.S., &c., in his book 
on *^ Stemae " or " Terns" writes, regarding this par- 
ticular species, shortly as follows : — 

** It is said that at Ascension Island the * Sooty 
Terns ' or * Wide-awakes ' come every eight months to 
breed ; if true, this is somewhat remarkable. The foot 
of this species is webbed to the extremity of the toes. 
The young are dark on the under parts." 

But with regard to the time of their coming and 
going, the general opinion at Ascension is, that it is 
irregular and uncertain; that the birds always re- 
main on the island until they have a young one ready 
to fly away with them, and no longer. Each pair look 
upon it as their duty to rear one chUd — each hen lays 
one egg ; but if by any means that is destroyed, she 
lays another, and so on, till she is the happy mother 



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cii. zviii. A Noisy Greeting. 209 

of a chick. Some people think that, if the eggs were 
judiciously removed in some way, the birds would 
remain permanently on the island ! Certain it is, that 
when the great flood of 1876 swept away all the eggs 
from the Fair, the birds began to lay again, and they 
were never before known to remain so long on the 
island. 

I have said that the Wide-awakes choose their 
nurseries for the most part among the rocks in 
the centre of the island. The largest " Fair " 
which we now visited, lies between Gannet Hill and 
Riding-school Crater, about three miles from Garri- 
son and two from Mars Bay. Here David, attended 
by Graydon and Sam, met us, and so did the Wide- 
awakes with a noisy greeting. Poor little things, how 
they shrieked in their excitement ! To say that there 
were thousands, conveys no idea of the vast multitude 
of birds that whirled around and above us — so close 
that one gentleman caught several, seizing them in his 
hands as they flew by. One carried in its bill a tin}' 
fish, which we took the liberty of examining, and, much 
to our surprise, found it to be no habitant of Ascen- 
sion waters ; so that this hungry little Wide-awake — 
about the size of an ordinary pigeon, only more slender 
and graceful in form — ^must have flown many a weary 
mile in search of its prey. We restored to him his 
supper and his liberty. 

Of course there was competition in egg gathering, 
at which I was singularly unsuccessful, feeling so con- 
fused by the deafening noise and so sickened by the 



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m 



2IO Six Months in Ascension. ch. xvm. 

strong smell of guano, that my wits went a-wool- 
gathering instead. 

Moreover, I did not much appreciate the delicacy of 
Wide-awakes' eggs, some of which had been gathered 
for us a few days before by Tom,* our new marine 
cook. These eggs, I had been told, were exactly like 
plovers', but except in size and colour I could detect 
little similarity. The white is certainly clearer and 
more glutinous than that of a common hen's egg, and 
the yolk is of a beautiful safeon or pumpkin colour, 
such as I never saw in any other. We cooked them in 
ever}' conceivable way — ^in puddings, omelettes, pan- 
cakes — ^fried, boiled, poached; and concluded that they 
were most palatable when boiled hard and eaten cold. 
In puddings I could not get them to " rise,'' but ];)os- 
sibly that was owing to my bad management and no 
fault of the egg. The thin shell is speckled very much 
like that of the grouse, and is diflftcult to detect on 
the bare stony ground on which the eggs are laid. It 
is more by the excitement of the birds in the neigh- 
bourhood of their treasures, than by anything else, that 
one discovers them; and so bold are they that the 
female will hardly leave her post until actually thrust 
aside. 

It was very amusing on one occasion. Just as 
we had scared a little hen from her solitary egg, her 
lord and master swooped down to defend it, and stood 
over the treasure screaming and flapping his wings in 

* I think what follows of our story will explain my reason for 
giving a fictitious name here. 



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€11. XVIII. Robbing the Birds. 211 

a fury, and threatening to attack any one that dared 
approach him. I admired his courage so much that, 
had not this been my first find, I certainly would not 
have robbed him. 

We gathered a good many dozens, but the eggs 
were by no means so numerous as I had been led to 
expect. I had been told that it was customary, on 
going to the Fair for plunder, to mark off and clear a 
space of ground, and then to sit down at some little 
distance and smoke a cigar till the birds should lay 
afresh. From the word ** clear " I had conceived an 
absurd idea of the ground being so covered with eggs 
that it would require careful stepping not to crush them ! 
This is decidedly not so, and, as I succeeded in finding 
only fifteen eggs, I should prefer to say that they 
are scarce. But " Honesty is the best poUcy,'' and 
I must confess that the St. Helena boys, who cater 
for the oflftcers' mess and for the few private families 
in Garrison, sometimes carry off as many as two hundred 
dozen in a morning.* 

The marines too, are large consimiers, and we 
were struck with amazement at the pathetic anxiety of 
a stout lime-burner, who told us " I fear some'at 
must be wrong with me ; last season I could eat as 
many as four dozen o' them Wide-awake eggs at 
a sittin' — but now I can only manage a matter o* 
two.'' 

* I afterwards ascertained that we had visited the Fair before it 
came to its height ; a month later the eggs were very much more 
numerous. 

p 2 



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2 1 2 Six, Months in Ascension, ch. xvm. 

Poor plundered birdies ! no wonder they shrieked. 

Close by the Fair is to be found, in the shade of 
some high rocks, a tea equipage with an iron tripod 
on which to hang the kettle. It looked tempting, but 
we had no firewood, no tea, no water, and no time 
wherewith to take advantage of this considerate arrange- 
ment. Moreover, we were warned of the approach of 
night by the sudden disappearance of the sun behind 
Gannet Hill. 

Just at the foot of the hill here there appeared to 
us the strange phenomenon of a brilliantly green flat, 
of about an acre in extent, looking like fresh spring- 
grass in the distance, and presenting a most striking 
contrast to the colourless barrenness everywhere 
around. On nearer inspection this oasis was found 
to be formed by a gigantic creeper (IponKsa maritima), 
with large, bright green leaves, somewhat resembling 
those of the bay, but of a lighter shade, and bearing a 
purple convolvulus-like flower. One of the long 
tendrils, chosen at random, we followed up, and found 
it to measure seventy-two feet. 

At Gannet Hill we parted from our friends : they 
going north to Garrison, and we southward to Mars 
Bay. We reached our tents shortly after sunset, to 
find Tom very cross at our having kept dinner 
waiting. Or perhaps it was my return that had up- 
set his precarious temper, for Tom could not be made 
to recognize female authority, and resented any fault- 
finding on my part, although to the master he was 
obedience itself. 



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CH. XVIII. A Droughty Marine. 213 

But on board ship what else could one expect? 
There, " Woman's Rights " are unknown ! 

I had offended Tom too, very soon after his 
arrival, and I think a little soreness remained to 
the end. 

One hot morning he had gathered, and presented to 
me, some dozens of Wide-awakes* eggs, with many 
impressive observations about the dust, and the drought 
of the journey. In a weak moment I rewarded him 
with a glass of grog — as much as I thought advisable ; 
but ncT doubt my ideas on the subject of grog are 
narrow, for the droughty marine felt insulted at 
the meagre draught and deliberately poured it 
upon the ground, with a cutting remark to the 
effect that, " Such a drop as that wouldn't wet his 
tongue." 

I naturally felt indignant, and it was not imtil I 
began to study the comic side of my cook, that I 
found him interesting and forgave him. But it is 
wonderful how one is depressed by bad temper, even 
in the kitchen ; and Tom's surly greeting made me 
look back with regret on the bright welcome that Hill 
used to meet me with. 

Poor Hill ! he got no better, and had to be sent 
home by mail steamer. David went to see him in 
hospital before he sailed, and we both felt quite sad 
when his hammock and screaming " Polly '* were 
•carried off from Mars Bay. 

Our community was so small, that each person and 
thing became an intimate friend and a part of our Ufe. 



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214 ^^ Mmttks in Ascension, ch. xvm. 

Thus our servants occupied a larger place in our home 
circle than they would have done in England, and this 
is my apology for writing of them so much. They 
too, were separated from their fellows, which of course 
was a much greater privation for them than for us. 
We had a definite object, an absorbing interest, at 
Mars Bay. We had numerous resources within om'- 
selves, such as study, light-reading, and a large home 
correspondence. Moreover, we were two^ and it is no 
marriage if husband and wife are not each other's best 
society. 

Under these circumstances, we were naturally 
anxious to include our servants in our life, and to keep 
them amused as much as possible ; but now it became 
more difficult than at first. Hill and Graydon had 
been great allies, but the proverbial antipathy be- 
tween marines and blue-jackets had no exception 
in the case of Graydon and Tom. They did not 
quarrel exactly, but they did not *'chum up," as. 
our colonists say, and I fear I laid this to the charge 
of Tom. 

He was one of those " I told-you-so *' characters, 
never in the wrong, and with tender feelings. It was 
these feelings I hurt, when I gave him too little grog ; 
and the remotest hint of his having done anything 
wrong was followed by a resigned expression of 
coimtenance, and an air of injured innocence, which 
was very ludicrous, after my feelings had ceased to be 
aggravated by it. For Tom was only one of a class — 
one of those sensitive creatures that look sadly around 



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OH. XVIII. Tender Feelings. 215 

them, thinking how much better mankind would be if 
it could better appreciate them — making themselves 
the centre of their little world, the sun of their little 
system, and crying aloud if they are rudely pushed 
against and their centreship ignored. 



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CHAPTER XIX. 



LAST DAYS AT MARS BAY. 



PassiDg ships. — H.M.S. Beaton. — Graydon home-sick. — "Rover" be- 
queathed. — A new assistant — ** Melpomene." — Bad weather. — 
Disappointment. — Delightful orders. — Scarcity of lucifer matches. 
— Attempts in Taxidermy. — Our feathered friends. — Sterna leiieo- 
capiZZa.— Packing.— The Ways of T?ie Servics.^My ignorance. — 
The work is done. — Pulling down our altars. 

Some weeks now passed by pleasantly and busily, 
but so entirely devoid of incident, that I fear my 
readers would find in a daily chronicle of them only 
monotonous repetition. 

Sometimes a pretty little donkey would peep over 
the rocks at us and scamper oflf again ; sometimes a 
wild cat would mistake my larder for public property, 
and bring involuntary fasts into the camp. Almost 
daily a ship of some kind passed us ; sometimes so far 
oflf as to seem a mere white speck on the horizon, at 
other times so close that we could easily read her 
signals without the help of a glass. " What news of 
the East ? '* " Is England at war ? '* " When is the 
mail due ? *' were invariable questions; and often, when 
outward-bound vessels found that a mail was expected 
soon, they would send letters ashore at Garrison, so 



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CH. XIX. Gray don leaves us, 217 

that Ascension has still good claim to its old name, 
'' The Sailor's Post Office/' 

About the middle of November H.M.S* Beacon, 
homeward-bound from China, put into harbour for 
coals and provisions, and her coming made another 
break in our little community, for at sight of her 
Graydon grew home-sick. Having exceeded his term 
of service on the West Coast by two years, he might 
have gone home with the Orontes in September ; and 
David could not find it in his heart to oppose him 
now, much as we were likely to suffer by a change. 

So Graydon applied to the Captain for relief, and 
was ordered to report himself on board the Beacon the 
following morning. Meantime another blue-jacket had 
been appointed to take his place at Mars Bay. 

Poor Graydon ! he was glad to go home, and yet we 
had quite a scene at parting. It was in a voice sus- 
piciously husky that Rover was bequeathed to me, 
while David made a miserable attempt to whistle and 
look unconcerned when I begged him to decide whether 
or not I should accept the gift. I could not conve- 
niently bring Rover home with me, and was afraid that 
Graydon might not like my having to leave him 
behind, but he was far too much excited to calculate 
for the future. 

*' I don't care where you leave him, ma'am. I am 
sure somebody will be good to the poor little chap, 
and I would like to leave him with you,^* said 
Graydon. 

So Rover remained, and howled many days and 



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2 1 8 Six Months in Ascension, ch. xix.. 

nights for his master, refusing to he comforted. It 
was very doleful ; but by-and-by the faithless doggie 
forgot, and became quite friendly and happy with 
" Captain," an English terrier which accompanied 
Brackley, Graydon's successor at the Observatory. 

We had now reached the 21st November. Fine 
evenings up to the 9th had allowed David to finish 
what was absolutely necessary of the Mars triangu- 
lation, and since then hardly a star had been visible. 

On the 12th he had intended to commence observa- 
tions of ** Melpomene," and by a similar process con- 
firm the result of the Mars observations. Melpomene 
(the " Muse of Sadness ") is a tiny planet between 8th 
and 9th magnitude, and is almost lost in the multi- 
tude of minor planets that have been discovered within 
the last thirty years. But now she had been selected to 
help in the great work of fixing the sun's distance ; 
because it so happened that for some weeks about the 
2nd of December, she would come a little nearer to 
the earth than the sim, and her small disc, imdistin- 
guishable from that of a star, would permit observations 
of extreme accuracy. 

David had already completed a similar work, imder 
less favourable circumstances, with the planet Juno at 
Mauritius in 1874, which, as a first experiment, had 
been entirely successful. It was with much interest, 
therefore, that we looked forward to the present occa- 
sion as likely to afibrd a determiaation of the Parallax, 
little inferior to that to be obtained by Mars. Not 
that Melpomene was so near to us as Mars — indeed,. 



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*' Melpomene^ 2 1 9 



she was fully two and a-half times as distant — but the 
observations were likely to be two and a-half times as^ 
accurate, because the measurement of the distance 
between two minute points is capable of so much 
greater precision than that of the distance between a 
minute star and a large bright planet such as Mars. 

The experience which my husband had had in the 
case of Juno led him to feel confidence in the method 
— a very satisfactory thing when the result of a year's 
labour in observation and calculation lies hid till the 
last step of the process. We therefore left Mars to- 
retreat unmolested for a season, and turned in pursuit 
of Melpomene, who now, on the 21st of November,, 
was threatening to escape us under cover of many 
cloudy nights. 

Before the 2nd of December, the night of Opposi-^ 
tion, a few good evening observations were obtained, 
but not a single complete morning set. Ever since 
the second week of October, the sky had invariably 
become overcast soon after midnight, and so remained 
until sunrise, rendering any evening observations for 
parallax useless for want of corresponding morning 
ones. 

Well, we dared not grumble, so thankful were we 
for the fine nights of August and September. Every 
year, two or three of these minor planets would come- 
into opposition under circumstances favourable for the 
purpose in question, but never again would Mars ap- 
pear so glorious to our eyes on this earth ; and, having 
secured the main, nay, sole object of the expedition,. 



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220 Six Months in Ascension. ch. xix. 

we could the more easily bear this comparatively 
trivial disappointment. 

The conditions for the observation of Melpomene 
being more favourable before than after opposition, 
David was able to decide by the end of November 
that he would waste no more evenings in a work he 
could not perfect ; but would rather make use of any 
clear weather that might occur, to determine yet 
more thoroughly the places of the Mars stars of 
comparison. 

It was a fortunate decision. Every morning clouds 
covered the island, and sometimes heavy rain fell at 
intervals between 1 a.m. and sunrise. But this cloud 
and rain, which lost us the Opposition of Melpomene, 
gave rise to a very important announcement, made on 
the 4th of December. Brackley had gone to Garrison 
in the morning, to draw his pay, and on his return 
brought us the welcome news — " If you please, sir, the 
Captain's orders are, that from to-day we are on double 
allowance of water.'* 

Delightful orders! but Tom of the rueful coun- 
tenance at once reproved our enthusiasm by the cor- 
rection, " Not double allowance, ma'am, only full allow- 
iince ; we were on half before." This depressing logic 
my feminine mind could not follow, and I persisted in 
my rejoicings over two gallons of water in the place of 
one. 

Speaking from a domestic point of view, the last 
days at Mars Bay were famous for full water-casks and 
a scarcity of lucifer matches ! At the canteen tJbft 



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Making Collections. 221 



supply of these latter articles had become exhausted, 
and our stock on hand consisted of but two small 
boxes. These I guarded jealously, and David suffered 
great anxiety in getting his cigars aUght, until, dis- 
covering a hex of " Vesuvians" in his despatch box, 
he was by this treasure trove rendered indepen- 
dent. 

The astronomical work of the last days at Mars 
Bay consisted chiefly in lunar and other observations 
for longitude and latitude ; and on the whole, the 
weather was propitious — much cloud and occasional 
showers, with opportune bands of clear sky intervening 
which served a good purpose. 

My time was partly occupied in collecting, labeUing 
and packing up specimens of our rocks, shells, 
sand, &c., in the hope of being able to know them 
better by subsequent study. We were also anxious to 
bring home with us some specimens of birds, but 
hitherto had always failed in our attempts to preserve 
them. We were without some of the chemicals neces- 
sary for the operation, and certain insects of Mars 
Bay seemed to revel in carbolic acid. 

But fortunately, one well skilled in taxidermy came 
to our assistance at last, and, thanks to him, we were 
able to bring to England some of our Ascension 
feathered friends. 

The delicate French-grey Boatswain Bird * {Phaeton 

* Boatswain Bird seems to be a sort of general term used by the 
sailors to denote various sea-birds, but as far as I could gather, the 
Tropic Bird, or Phaeton cUherius, is the Boatswain Bird, proper. 



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2 22 Six Months in Ascension, ch. xix. 

atherius) with its graceful tail of twin feathers ; the 
broad-winged Frigate Bird (Tachypetes Aquila), which 
I at first mistook for an albatross, and was much puzzled 
by the gay scarlet pouch depending from its breast^ 
This pouch, filled with salt water, serves the purpose 
of a game bag, in which live fish are brought home by 
thfe male parent to feed his dainty young, who evi- 
dently do not approve of "high'* game nor tinned 
salmon. 

The Gannets (Sula cyanops) and Boobies {Sula 
leucogastrd) are well known, and are by no means so 
handsome in shape or plimiage as the Frigate and 
Boatswain birds. Of the Wide-awakes, I have already 
told all that I know, and only one other bird came 
under our notice at Mars Bay. That happened in 
this way. 

One evening during our last week there, David was 
sitting at the door of the tent at sunset, on murder 
bent, and watching for a flight of Wide-awakes. I 
am glad to say, it is against the game laws of Ascen- 
sion to shoot these confiding birdies, but we only 
wanted to secure one or two for scientific purposes, 
and to this extent we had absolution. 

We had heard that Wide-awakes grew grey with 
years — that the young birds were of a uniformly sooty 
brown, and only acquired their brilliant white breasts 
with maturity. Now, having frequently noticed some 
birds — altogether black, with the exception of a white 
spot on the head — accompanying the Wide-awakes, 
and closely resembling them in shape and size, we were 



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<;h. XIX. A Strange Bird, 223 

curious to know if these were really the same birds in 
a transition state of colour. 

A right and left shot brought down a couple of the 
white-capped strangers, and then it was discovered 
that they were no Wide-awakes at all, although belong- 
ing to the same family. Mr. Unwin, the naturalist, 
who had so kindly helped us before, pronounced them 
to be ''Sterna leucocapilkiy" a very rare species of 
Terriy hitherto unknown to Ascension. 

Of these Mr. Saunders says, " This form is appa- 
rently less widely diffused than some of its congeners. 
Mr. Gould's specimens were obtained at Raine's Islet, 
Australia, where the bird is said to be very abundant. 
There is a specimen in the British Museum, from 
Bristow Island, south coast of New Guinea ; and the 
United States Exploring Expedition found it breeding 
at Panmotu Island, where its single egg was deposited 
upon the bare ground, instead of in a nest. There is 
no grey about the head or cheeks, but, with the excep- 
tion of the white crown, the whole pliunage is of a 
sooty brown." 

Australia ! New Guinea ! Panmotu Island ! How 
came the little wanderers so far from their homes ? 
For up to this time Ascension had been no home nor 
colony of theirs. They had never been known to 
breed in any part of it, and on no occasion did we 
observe them to fly inland. They invariably steered 
their course in one direction — against the wind, and in 
their flight just skirted our shore. 

Why? And wherefore this sudden appearance in 



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224 "^^-^ Months in Ascension. ch. xix. 



such numbers at Ascension ? Did some ocean rock 
which had been their home> sink suddenly beneath the 
waves, leaving no rest for the sole of their foot, until a 
new ark was found ? Let wise men answer. Verily the 
birds of the air have many things to tell us, undreamt 
of in our philosophy. 

Excepting Guinea Fowl and the universal Dorking 
with variations, the only land bird that we saw on Ascen- 
sion was a pretty little finch called the Averdavat 
(Estrelda amaudava), ringed round the body with two 
shades of grey, and having a red bill and red spots on 
the breast and under the eyes. It is much valued 
there, and also in this country, as a cage bird. Indeed, 
almost the first drawing-room which we entered on 
returning to London, contained a cage in which were, 
hopping from perch to perch, two little twitterers that 
looked strangely familiar, and with the glad feeling 
of having met with old friends, we exclaimed 
" Averdavats ! '* 
After the packing of my *' clinker " box was satis- 
* factorily accomplished, I set about collecting our 
household gear, which certainly was not improved by 
its sojourn in tents. Tom was not so efficient an 
assistant in such work as Hill had been. He was 
always bringing forward some remarkable method for 
doing everything better than anybody else, and 
although the method generally failed, his confidence in 
himself was never shaken thereby, because it was 
always somebody else that had caused the failure. 
Wonderful indeed were his achievements in his owir 



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cH. XIX. Counting the Breakages. 225 

knagination ; and the way he patronized me, and 
pardoned all my mistakes because of my ignorance of 
the Service, was most amusing. 

" Ah ! you see you don't know the Service as I 
know it,'* was the refrain of all Tom's excuses for me, and 
I certainly doubted my abiUty ever to know the Service 
according to Tom. It was so complicated and had so 
many peculiar traits of character. 

I was constantly having such shocks to my memory 
about this time as, 

" How many cups and saucers had you, ma'am ? '* 

"Four," I answer at a venture. 

"Well, there are only three now, and one don't 
count for much, for the saucer is chipped, and the cup 
leaks ever so." 

Or again, " Please, ma'am, how many glasses came 
out?" 

" Six," and this time I am sure. 

" Just one now, ma'am." 

" That's very awkward," I answer; "how are we to 
replace them ? " 

" Oh ! " says Tom, " that don't matter, I've kept 
the pieces, which will coimt just the same as if the 
glasses were whole. It is the way of the Service — so be 
that you return the articles, ma'am, it don't matter 

Notwithstanding these wonderfully accommodating 
ways of " The Service," I still doubted the propriety 
of presenting the Admiralty with broken glass, and 
persisted in expressing my intention of replacing the 



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226 Six Months in Ascension. ch. xix. 

damaged goods, if possible. Whereupon Tom would 
look upon me with a pitying smile, as he repeated his 
favourite formula, " If you knew the Service as I 
know it, you wouldn't think of such a thing, 
ma'am." 

I thought such knowledge must be difficult to ac- 
quire, so gave up the attempt, and turned my mind to 
matters more fitted to my understanding. 

We wished, if possible, to have our '* flitting " over 
before Christmas Day, and were most fortunate in being 
able to manage this. On the 23rd, the last moon 
occultation for December took place, and as the night 
was clear David was able, not only to secure this, his 
last chance for longitude, but also to complete his 
determination of latitude by observing the transits of 
stars in the prime vertical. 

Then the work was done ; that is, of course, apart 
from the laborious calculations which must ensue. As 
I write now, these are still unfinished, but the reduc- 
tions are sufficiently advanced for me to say, almost 
with certainty, that our six months of anxiety have . 
been crowned with success. 

How glad we were when the Observatory dome was 
shut for the last time! So grateful too, and ready 
thoroughly to enjoy a merry Christmas. Early on the 
24th, the turtle-boat came for our household goods 
(the Heliometer being left meanwhile), and our tent 
life was at an end. 

Thankful as I was to have the work finished, yet I 
had struck some* roots in the clinker which could not 



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cH. XIX. Good-bye to Mars Bay. 227 

be pulled up without a wrench, and it was with a lump 
in my throat and dim eyes that I said good-bye to 
Mars Bay. 

Those are enviable people who retain in larger 
growth a child-like satisfaction in the novelty of 
coming and going — who are glad to seek new places, 
and as glad to leave them behind, thereby ensuring for 
themselves two pleasures in place of two trials, such 
as aflflict the heart that is wedded to old scenes and 
old faces. To me, a new home, however pretty, gives 
no rest until I get to know it; then I love it, no 
matter how plain its features. Then it becomes a 
friend who has shared my joys and sorrows, seen my 
cares, and carried in its bosom my most sacred trea- 
sures. It makes my heart ache when I must leave this 
well-beloved friend behind, and memory counts with a 
sigh one more of life's regrets. My life has been so 
ordered, that I have loved and left many homes ; but 
I hardly looked upon Mars Bay as one, until I saw it 
for the last time. Then I knew that I had set up my 
household gods in those tents as surely as in a costly 
temple, and that this was another pulling down of 
their altars. 



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CHAPTER XX. 

CHRISTMAS IN GARRISON. 

Five precious Books.— Christmas without Holly — Roast Beef and Plum 
Pudding. — A Musical Entertainment. — The Tom-tom. — ^A motley 
crew. — The Master of Ceremonies. —No cook and no dinner. — 
Eggs and bacon. —The Captain's Office, — Exit Tom. 

Christmas morning found us again at Commodore's 
Cottage, with everything around looking much the 
same as during our first occupation. Only now there 
was no Observatory on the croquet lawn, while, lying 
snugly in a strong box were five books of manuscript, 
containing " Observations of the Opposition of Mars 
at Ascension, a.d. 1877." These diflferences con- 
tributed much to our comfort, and even with the 
thermometer at 89° F. and not a bit of holly in 
the land, I was prepared to enjoy my first summer 
Christmas. 

Having fallen asleep with the sound of imaginary 
" waits " and " Christmas Carols " ringing in my ears, 
I was awakened at sunrise by a very different sound — 
the beat of tom-toms, accompanied at intervals by a 
sort of hoarse monotonous chant, which we were given 
to understand was intended as a song of rejoicing on 
the part of the Kroomen. 



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CH. XX. Christmas Day. 229 

As we walked down to church in the bright morn- 
ing, our little Garrison looked quite gay and festal. 
Flags of various colours and devices were flying over 
the different mess-rooms, and all the men showed clean 
and trim in holiday attire. Alas ! I fear some of them 
were less clean and trim before the shades of night 
had fallen ; but I must not make the behaviour of a 
faulty few, a type of the whole. Generally speaking, 
the men enjoyed their Christmas rationally, and not a 
single disturbance annoyed us in Garrison during their 
three days' idleness. 

Our Christmas Day service was very short: ad- 
visable, no doubt, on account of the heat, which made 
it difficult to keep the attention fixed or the mind 
vigorous for any length of time. After service, and 
in the heat of the noon-day sun, the men dined on 
the traditional roast beef and plum-pudding with 
** trimmings." 

I wonder how hot it must be before an Englishman 
would give up his heavy Christmas dinner ? Appa- 
rently the temperature of Ascension made no difference 
to his enjoyment of it, although we could not speak on 
this matter from experience. But thereby hangs a tale 
presently to be unfolded. 

When we came from church, Tom begged permis- 
sion to dine with his messmates, which I readily 
granted him, on condition that he would return at four 
o'clock to prepare our dinner, for we had declined many 
kind offers of hospitality for the day. Then Sam, in 
his turn, longed to help his countrymen at making 



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230 Six Months in Ascension. ch. xx. 

holiday, so we were left to spend the day with deserted 
kitchen. Sam was delighted to be off, and told me 
with much glee that " they going to have great fan 
down at Krootown," which 1 suppose they had, for the 
sound of the tom-tom, accompanied by yells, was borne 
on the wind all the afternoon, and ultimately we had a 
special benefit of this unmelodious music. 

As the sun went down the horrid din waxed louder ; 
the distance, which had lent its only enchantment, 
gradually decreased, until at last our verandah was 
surrounded by a crowd of Kroomen, dressed in the 
most extraordinary variety of costumes, yelling, beat- 
ing the tom-tom, and dancing what they pleased to 
term a war-dance. When the troop " hove in sight," 
I was sitting alone on the verandah, trying to catch 
the first cool breath of the evening breeze, and my 
nerves were hardly strung to a pitch sufficient to enjoy 
this musical entertainment in full, so I hastily re- 
treated within, preferring to bear it in the privacy of 
my chamber. This was not according to the pro- 
gramme, however. An insinuating knock from Sam 
came to intimate that I was expected to go outside. 
" They come wish you happy Christmas, ma," he 
called out ; and if noise has anything to do with good 
wishes, they were certainly expressed with a will. 

" Wah-y-a-wah-wah ! Wah-y-a-wah ! " in every 
octave from the shrillest soprano to the deepest bass, 
greeted me outside, and one little fellow, black as 
Erebus, was seated on the verandah steps, playing 
with all his might on their favourite tom-tom. This is 



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CH. XX. Christmas Greetings. 231 

a very primitive instrument of simplest construction, 
and seemed to me to consist of a small barrel with an 
end knocked out — across the opening a dressed hide 
was stretched, and this was beaten with the palms of 
both hands. 

The poor things must have been very tired and hot 
with all this dancing and yelling and beating, to say 
nothing of the unaccustomed amount of clothing they 
wore. One dark figure was crowned with the orthodox 
**tall" hat — the abomination of civilization — and it 
evidently impressed the wearer with a crushing sense 
of his importance. Another woolly head was encased 
in a white muslin " Dolly Varden ; " while a pair of 
large blue spectacles adorned the nose of a third. The 
whole had the most comical effect, and they all grinned 
and grimaced and laughed so, that it was quite impos- 
sible to be in the least impressed by a great tin sword, 
which was evidently intended to furnish the warlike 
element in the performance. 

By-and-by David appeared, and then the shouting 
grew more tumultuous ; partly from good will, let us 
suppose, but I fear that a new hope of bubbly-water 
was what chiefly increased the excitement. After we 
thought that they had made noise enough, we hinted 
as much, and (saying to his conscience, " Christmas 
comes but once a year") David produced a bottle of 
rum, which was promptly taken in charge by the head 
Krooman, ** Chop-Dollar." Dressed in his best blue 
jacket and white duck trowsers, he seemed to be acting 
as Master of Ceremonies, and wore an expression of 



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232 Six Months in Ascension. ch. xx. 

face as solemn as if he were conducting a funeral in- 
stead of a holiday frolic. 

After the excitement of the war-dance was over, I 
began to grow anxious about Tom and dinner, and on 
peeping into the kitchen, what was my dismay to find 
no Tom — no fire — ^no beef — no plum-pudding ! How- 
ever, Sam, who had now returned to his duties, com- 
forted me with the information that Tom had carried 
off our dinner to be cooked in the marines' galley ; and 
I took no further care about the matter until six 
o'clock, when the pangs of hunger again urged me to 
action. Still no sign of cook or dinner, and scouts 
were now sent out in all directions in search of the 
"missing," but with no result. Ultimately David 
went, and his finding of the case was — Tom drunk, 
galley locked, fire out, and nobody knows nothing 
about nothing ! 

Here was a nice state of things on Christmas Day : 
no dinner, and nothing in the larder ; for in these 
climes one cannot be fore-stocked in fresh provisions 
at Christmas time as in frosty England. The best 
result of my forage was eggs and bacon. It was very 
hard, and I felt very cross ; while, to make the matter 
worse,' David was so unmanly as to treat the misfor- 
tune as a good joke, except in so far as Tom's conduct 
was concerned. That he felt he must punish as the 
same fault had occurred several times before; and 
only the previous evening, Tom had been warned that 
the next offence of the kind would be reported. 

There is surely no duty in life more disagreeable 



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CH. XX. The Last of Tom. 233 

than that of fault-finding, and the necessity for it in 
the present case was an unpleasant thought on Christ- 
mas Day ; hut after making up our minds, the flavour 
of it vanished from our hacon and eggs, and we con- 
trived to spend a delightful evening. A cup of tea 
smoothed my ruffled humour, and we congratulated 
ourselves on the probability of a more joyful awaken- 
ing next morning, than if we had dined heavily a la 
John Bull. 

I certainly never expected to see our Christmas 
joint again, thinking its ashes had gone to swell the 
great cinder heap on which we lived. But, amazing to 
relate, it appeared next morning at breakfast — cold and 
none the worse ; so did our cook — also cold but not in 
so good condition, poor fellow ! David almost changed 
his mind and would fain have taken no notice, espe- 
cially, if the truth must be told, because reporting 
Tom was tantamoimt to dismissing him, and we must 
thus punish ourselves by being short-handed during 
the busy days before leaving. 

But remembering the danger of an unfulfilled warn- 
ing, he stuck to his word, and Tom was taken to the 
Captain's office — had thirty days' grog stopped, and 
on my husband's relieving him from duty with Us, he 
was sent to tend the bullocks at the Mountain. 

Let us hope he was more active in ministering to 
their physical needs than he had been to ours. Exit 
Tom! 



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CHAPTER XXI. 

ABOUT THE KROOMEN. 

A visit from Sam the First. — The Big Brother. — A bad bargain. — 
Favourite investments. — "Chop-Dollar." — A remarkable toilet. — 
Kroomen's physique. — Eroomen's moral nature. — Fetish. — Kings- 
ley on Fetish. — **Gre-gre.'* — ** Fetish no can touch white man." 
— A demand for over-exposed photographs. — A theft. — "Fetish 
will have you." — Retribution. — Sam's aspirations. — My regrets. 
—"Is it too late?" 

The day after Christmas was also a holiday in 
Garrison, and we had a visit during the morning from 
our old friend Sam the first, in Sunday suit, along 
with another Krooman whom he introduced as his 
*' chum." 

" We come wish you merry Christmas-time," said 
Sam ; and we thanked them, hoping in turn that they 
had had a happy Christmas, 

" No, ma, me no happy Christmas, other man drink 
it all,'' said Sam. 

I didn't quite understand him at first, hut it gradu- 
ally dawned upon me that, to poor Sam's thinking, 
Christmas happiness was in proportion to the amount 
of bubbly- water he could consume. 

How I wish we could show our good will to these 
poor fellows in some other way than by giving them 



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cH. XXI. Kroomen in the Navy, 235 

" something to drink ! " But there are so few things 
that they appreciate. Some of them, indeed, accept 
money eagerly, but for the most part they " no care," 
And it is no wonder, for all the money they earn has 
to be given up to the Big Brother. 

Although it is an undoubted fact that the Krooman 
cannot live as a slave, and has been known in slavery 
to starve himself to death, yet this Big Brother system 
almost amoimts to bondage. It has its origin in this 
way:— 

Very often a well-to-do, long-headed Kjrooman seeks 
out a few miserable starving countrymen in the interior, 
brings them down to Sierra Leone, feeds and clothes 
them there for a time, and then ships them on board 
a man-of-war, on condition thai they bring him back all 
the money they earn. 

Each of our ships of war on the West Coast of 
Africa is allowed to employ a fixed number of these 
men (proportional to her crew), and they are invaluable 
in that climate for all hard work invol^ng exposure 
to the sun. They make splendid boatmen, and are 
able to maintain communication with the land when 
no blue-jacket could take a boat through the surf; so 
the Little Brothers, paid by our navy beyond their 
wildest expectations (9d. a day), soon begin to discover 
that they have made a bad bargain. Yet their sense 
of honesty, combined with their fear of Fetish, is 
suflSciently strong to make them keep to it in the 
letter, though they do not scruple to break it in the 
spirit. Either they grow reckless about their savings. 



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236 Six Months in Ascension. ch. xxi. 

or else spend every sixpence they earn in goods to 
which the Big Brother can lay no claim. 

Clothing is their favourite mode of investment, and 
some of their wardrobes must be a rare sight. There 
is nothing they won't buy, especially if it be European ; 
and no doubt they astonish their friends at home by 
donning their heterogeneous attire when they return 
to Fatherland. Doubtless also they deck out their 
mothers and wives and sisters in serge gowns and 
Dolly Varden hats. Filial affection is one of the 
many virtues of this African race, and they store up 
the most extraordinary treasures for their old people. 

Some time before our arrival there was a sale by 
auction of the wardrobe of an officer lately deceased, 
at which the Kroomen bought largely ; and as they 
bore off their various purchases on their persons, some 
striking figures were presented to the sketcher. 

" Chop-Dollar,*' who is a reputed Croesus, became 
very much excited, bid wildly for an Ulster, and having 
secm*ed it, pi'oceeded at once to put it on. Then a 
dress-coat fell to his share, and that was put atop of 
the Ulster, tied by the arms round the neck. Next a 
tall hat and hat-box. The hat was promptly clapped 
upon his head ; the box he placed between his feet, 
and continued bidding until it was filled with handker- 
chiefs, collars, ties, and other small goods. Then, 
tliinking no doubt that he had done his duty, and de- 
frauded the Big Brother of enough of money for a 
time, he proceeded triumphantly to Krootown, bearing 
the loaded hat-box, Krooman-like, on his head atop of 



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CH. XXI. KroonteUy Physically & Mentally. 257 

the hat, and accompanied by a dusky crowd, grotesque 
in newly-purchased attire, and all laughing and chatter- 
ing in their usual good-humoured way. 

We became deeply interested in the history and 
character of these men — ^whose industry, honesty, and 
imperturbable good-nature make them such valuable 
servants. Physically, the Kroomen are well-formed; of 
a medium height, and stoutly built, with woolly pates, 
and of an open, pleasant countenance, black — ^very 
black, though it be. A stripe of blue tattooing runs 
down from where the wool begins to grow, to the point 
of the broad flat nose. The mouth is better cut, and 
the Ups less thick than those of the real African negro ; 
but, on the other hand, they cannot boast of their 
beautiful teeth, and the Kroomen further disfigure 
theirs by filing out a triangular space between the two 
front ones. Yet the smile is pleasing, and has a 
wonderful brightness in it, lighting up the whole of 
the dark face like a sudden sunbeam, and a kind word 
has the power of calling it forth at all times. 

The moral nature of the Krooman is undoubtedly 
high, and one eminently fitted to receive Christianity. 
Many of them indeed do attend the English Church 
service, and a few I believe have been baptized ; but, 
generally speaking, the reverence that the greater part 
of them have for Christianity is due to a beUef that 
" white man's Fetish better than black man's." 

This Fetish worship is common to all negro races, 
and exists among them in many other parts of 
the world under slightly diflerent forms. Kingsley 



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238 Six Months in Ascension. ch. xxr. 

found it very strong in the West Indies, and 
gives much interesting information on the subject; 
but the system seems to have become so involved that 
it is impossible to trace it, the worshippers themselves 
being the most ignorant of what they worship. 

With regard to it Kingsley says : — " Here, perhaps, 
I may be allowed to tell what I know about this curious 
question of Obeah or Fetish worship. It appears to 
me, on closer examination, that it is not a worship of 
natural objects ; not a primaeval worship ; scarcely a 
worship at all ; but simply a system of incantation 
carried on by a priesthood, or rather a sorcerer class ; 
and this being the case, it seems to me unfortunate 
that the term * Fetish worship ' should have been 
adopted by so many learned men as the general name 
for the supposed primspval* Nature-worship. The 
negro does not, as the primaeval man is supposed to 
have done, regard as divine (and therefore as Fetish 
or Obeah) any object which excites his admiration ; 
anything peculiarly beautiful, noble, or powerful ^ any- 
thing even which causes curiosity or fear. In fact, a 
Fetish is no natural object at all ; it is a spirit, an 
Obeah, Jumby, Duppy, like the * Duwels ' or spirits 
of the air, which are the only deities of which our 
gipsies have a conception left. That spirit belongs 
to the Obeah, or Fetish-man, and he puts it by magic 
ceremonies into any object which he chooses. Thus 
anything may become Obeah as far as I have ascer- 
tained. In a case which happened very lately, an 
Obeah-man came into the country, put the Obeah into 



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OH. XXI. Fetish. 239 

a fresh monkey's jaw-bone, and made the people offer 
to it fowls and plantains, which, of course, he himself 
ate. Such is Obeah now, and such it was when the 
Portuguese first met with it on the African coast four 
hundred years ago." 

As far as I can gather, the Kroomen believe strongly 
too in the power of certain charms, called " gre-gre," 
to propitiate Fetish. These charms are generally worn 
on their persons, and may consist of a finger-nail ; of 
a lock of hair, human or belonging to some animal ; 
of a couple of small pebbles carried in a bag round the 
neck ; indeed, of anything, as Kingsley says of Fetish. 

But at the same time one must not confound the 
two. The gre-gre is merely a charm used against the 
power of Fetish, which I never knew to be associated 
with anything beautiful in nature or art, anything cal- 
culated to inspire feelings of awe or admiration — but 
rather of horror and disgust. Indeed the principle 
of Fetish-worship is not love or even reverence, but 
fear. The Obeah is always an evil spirit to be pro- 
pitiated, and his trembling worshippers enjoy and envy 
the boldness of those that dare to defy him. 

A naval officer told me that at Sierra Leone he once 
bought an unshapely block of wood (with a rude head 
carved on one end of it), which was worshipped as con- 
taining the spirit of Fetish. This thing he set sud- 
denly upon the deck one evening when the Kroomen 
were assembled; and then contemptuously kicked it 
over, wishing to try what effect such an act of sacri- 
lege would have upon them. For a moment the black 



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240 Six Months in Ascension, ch. xxi. 

faces looked aghast — almost pale, and then each ex- 
panded into a broad grin. 

" Will your Fetish hurt me for this ? " asked their 
Captain. 

" Oh, no ; Fetish no can touch white man." 

Poor souls ! it is no wonder that they long to be 
white and beyond the power of this evil spirit. 
Indeed, the great desire of their lives is for fair faces, 
and the photographer at Ascension, who is much 
patronized by the Kroomen, has frequently been 
offered double price for an over-exposed picture, 
because "it make them look white ! " Perhaps they 
thought it would be a gre-gre, and defy the power of 
Fetish. 

A considerable traffic goes on in these charms. 
An unlucky man begins to get angry with his gre- 
gre, and looks with envy on that belonging to a 
more fortunate neighbour, who may, in his turn, be 
casting longing eyes on some other gre-gre which he 
wishes to purchase, while he is by no means unwilling 
to part with his own for a fair sum. 

While we were at Ascension a favourite pipe disap- 
peared from Krootown, and after some time the en- 
raged owner recognized it in the mouth of a comrade. 

"That my pipe." "No, my pipe," persisted the 
thief, who refused, with the most violent protests, to 
give it up. 

"Very well; Fetish will have you before four o'clock." 
But the guilty Krooman was not afraid; he laughed and 
said, " Me no care — ^my gre-gre better than yours." 



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CH. xxr. A Gtiilty Conscience, 241 

Now, strange to say, that same afternoon about 
three o'clock, when the Krooman who had stolen the. 
pipe was throwing away the refuse of the turtle that 
had just been slain, by some accident he slipped from 
the pier-head into the sea. These Kroomen are essen-r. 
tially an amphibious race, and seem to feel as much at 
home in the water as elsewhere, so that no great harm 
was done ; but the cold bath stirred up a guilty con- 
science. 

With haste and dripping clothes, the affrighted 
Krooman ran to restore the pipe, and at the same time 
to offer aU his possessions for the powerful gre-gre (a 
bit of hair in a dirty little bag), that had brought upon 
Ijim such speedy retribution. But no ; its present 
possessor would on no account part with it, and so 
lose the pre-eminence it gave him over his fellows; for 
ever since this occurrence he has been much "es- 
teemed and respected," and I have no doubt will die 
*' rich and deeply regretted." 

Well, it is not very long ago since our dear, blun- 
dering old Scotland believed in gre-gre, called by an- 
other name ; and all over the civilized world at this 
day, methinks, men honour men less for their man- 
hood than for their possession of the magic " gre-gre,"* 
called in our tongue " success." 

After some questioning I found that my Sam was no- 
believer in Fetish, and he laughed when I asked 
whether he wore a gre-gre. " No, ma, that no sense.'' 

"Then, are you a Christian, Sam?" I asked; for 
he attended our English service regularly. 

11 



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242 Six Months in Ascension. ch. xxi. 

" No, ma/* he replied, with a shake of the head, 
** but me want to believe what you believe — ^you tell me 
how." 

Poor Sam ! I felt that he was asking me for bread, 
and I could only give him a stone ; for this conversa- 
tion took place when our days at Ascension were grow- 
ing few, and I had the. bitterness of knowing that, in 
my anxiety to help the mind, I had left the spirit un- 
aided. " Time " for my opportunity was almost gone, 
and " Too late " was near at hand ; but I did the little 
I could, and I had a willing pupil. 

By this tin(ie he could read at sight with tolerable 
ease, and before I left, he read to me the 14th chapter 
of St. John with evident understanding and without a 
mistake. A little New Testament was my Christmas 
gift to him, and he promised to persevere in the study 
of it. 

Has he done so ? I hope for the best, but my heart 
was heavy when I parted from him, and is so now 
when I think of time wasted and a precious opportu- 
nity lost. 



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CHAPTER XXII. 

CLINKER CEMETERIES. 

'* In boxes." — "Waiting for the Mail. — Dead Man's Beach. — Garrison 
Cemetery. — The music of the waves. — A coral strand. — The 
** Blow-hole. "—The Rollers again. — The Heliometer in danger. — 
Its fortunate escape. — Volcanic scenery. — Comfortless Cove. — 
Lonely graves. — A vision of the past. 

But the Kroomen have betrayed me uito a long 
digression, and it is now absolutely necessary that I 
return to Commodore's Cottage and its inmates. 

We had hoped to spend our Christmas holidays at 
Green Mountain, but having no authentic information 
as to when the Mail would arrive, we dared not venture 
far from harbour. Counting from the departure of the 
I)revious Mail, she was due on the 10th of January ; 
but the captain of a barque which arrived from the 
Cape on Christmas Eve, brought word from the agents 
there, that the steamer calling next at Ascension 
would leave Cape Town on Christmas Dslj. In this 
case we must expect her on the 3rd or 4th of January. 
It was very annoying to be "in boxes,'* and in a state 
of uncertainty about our departure for ten days, but it 
would have been infinitely more annoying to be left 
behind. Accordingly, we gave up the idea of removing 

11 2 



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244 *^^ Months in Ascension. ch. xxn. 



our household to the Mountain, and contented ourselvesr 
with making short excursions from Garrison instead. 

It was now Ascension mid-siunmer, and there wa& 
light enough for a good walk after five o'clock. Our 
first spare afternoon was devoted to "Dead Man** 
Beach," which I have already described as lying south 
of Kerhead, and which, notwithstanding its gloomy 
name, is bright and life-like, as the blue waves dance 
in the sunlight, and break in quick succession on the 
glistening sand. But about 100 yards from the sea, 
where this pretty white sand runs into the black 
clinker, the name is justified, for here lies the 
Garrison Cemetery, very full of graves and very 
dismal. 

Not that the one condition is the necessary conse- 
quence of the other. It was not the graves that made 
it dismal, but the crumbling headstones covered with 
black dust ; the wall, broken down in many parts by 
the last heavy rains, half-burying some gravestones in 
its ruins; one or two open graves, and tools lying 
about for making others ; the perfect barrenness every- 
where, for not the tiniest flower bloomed within or 
without. It was indeed a picture of death and decay, 
and the sea sang a constant dirge for the lost lives of 
the many brave sailors that lie buried here, within 
sound of her mourning voice. 

After leaving the Cemetery, we continued our walk 
close to the water's edge, enjoying the fresh breeze, 
and looking out for a curious beach phenomenon 
somewhere about, called " The Blow-hole." Not know- 



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€H. XXII. The Blow-hole. 245 

ing exactly what to expect, I fancied that a disturbed 
pool, which we now chanced upon, was the object of 
our search. Here the waves were surging through an 
underground passage, sending forth a cloud of spray 
from among the rocks, accompanied by a rich, low 
musical sound. The music had a metallic character, 
and something very like it we had often heard and 
wondered about at Mars Ba3''. There, it was audible 
only at certain spots and at certain times. In the 
Transit Hut it was nearly always to be heard, but 
when the roUers were in, we could hear it also in the 
Heliometer House, and in the open air. 

We often puzzled over it, and concluded that it 
must be caused by the percussion of the waves 
against the rocks, which, in many cases, were of 
such a nature as to ring like a piece of metal when 
struck. 

While we stood watching the waves and listening 
to their music, one of the hospital patients (who was 
strolling about idly, poor man, with a broken arm) 
came up to us, and, in answer to our inquiries, he 
told us that the Blow-hole was still some little distance 
off. 

Ten minutes* walking brought us to it. At the 
extreme end of the sandy beach, or more poetically 
and more truthfully speaking — the "coral strand," 
we found a curious natural fomitain playing. 

" Not a fountain," said my husband, *' but a cham- 
pagne bottle imcorked ! " 

From a little hole, not a foot in diameter, in the 



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246 Six Months in Ascension. ch. xxn, 

flat-surfeced rock, a stream of water suddenly gushed 
forth ; and, rushing up twenty or thirty feet, broke 
into spray; then vanished as suddenly as it had 
appeared, leaving the narrow vent quiet till the next 
surge of the waves, when again the fountain leapt 
forth like a thing of life and sudden death. It was 
pleasant to watch it — ^with its fitful activity, so unlike 
the steady, constant motion of the waves, which were 
coming and going with the dull monotonous sound 
that makes one sad or sleepy according to the mood. 

To-day there was none of the sharp crash that the 
rollers bring with them — the bay was calm, and we 
regretted it, because the Blow-hole takes much addi- 
tional life from the rollers. Those inconvenient, dis- 
obliging, unaccommodating rollers ! They declined to 
satisfy our desire for a " spectacle " tliis afternoon, but 
next day they created one, undesired, and almost 
caused us a terrible misfortune. 

With a view to being prepared for the arrival of the 
Mail on the 3rd of January, my husband returned to 
Mars Bay on the 27th of December, along with a party 
of blue-jackets and marines, intending to dismount the 
instruments and bring them back with him in the 
steam-launch, as he had now more confidence in the 
safety of the landing. Meantime, a lighter was 
moored in the bay, waiting to be loaded once more 
with our baggage. 

When they got to Mars Bay at 9 a.m., rollers were 
threatening, and my husband thought it advisable to 
send off the most precious and delicate part of his 



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CH. XXII. A Frail Boat. 247 

cargo first. So the Heliometer-tube was quickly disr 
mounted, fitted carefully into its case and carried by 
four men down to the beach, where it was placed oi> 
the seats of a dingey to be sculled out to the lighter. 

But this dingey was aged and frail ; indeed so often 
had it been repaired, that current gossip reported a 
structure of tea-lead and brown paper to have taken 
the place of the original dingey. Be this as it may,, 
the little boat was unfortunately caught in a Scylla 
and Charj^bdis condition by a mischievous roller^ 
and cast on the top of a rock in mid-channel. The 
men got her oiF almost immediately, and the shock was. 
not a severe one, but unhappily severe enough to knock 
a hole in the bottom of the fragile dingey, which at 
once began to fill. They sculled out with all haste, 
but by the time they got along-side the lighter, the 
boat was filled nearly to the thwarts, and the Helio- 
meter was saved from damp only by having been 
placed upon the seats. By dint of baling (the dingey 
being lightened of the Heliometer, which was now 
safely on board the lighter), they got her back to 
shore, but she gave no hope of being of any further 
use in taking oiF the other things. 

Then, after seeing everything dismantled and carried 
to the beach, David set off to Garrison to beg for 
another boat. He arrived shortly after noon very hot 
and tired, and his unexpected appearance gave me 
quite a shock. Are the difficulties of the Mars expe- 
dition never to be at an end ? I thought. But how 
thankftd I felt not to have seen the Heliometer. being 



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248 Six Months in Ascension. ch. xxn. 

sculled oat to sea in a sinking boat. The excitement 
would have been more intense than pleasurable. And 
how I wished the " uncanpy " instrument safe at 
home! 

It seemed as if Mars Bay claimed a right to it, and 
resented our carrying off her raison d'etre. But we 
could not afford to leave such a precious souvenir; and 
the same evening another dingey took everything on 
board the lighter, which was at once towed roimd to 
ithe Pierhead, there to await the arrival of the Mail. 

For the next few days my husband was busy pack- 
ing. I too, had some of that work to do on a smaller 
Bcale, and there being no one to cook for us except 
a blue-jacket, who was strange to the art, the days 
tit Commodore's Cottage were hot and fatiguing this 
•Christmas-tide. 

We always found time and inclination, however, for 
our evening walk, and one day some friends joined us 
in an excursion to Comfortless Cove. The distance 
from Garrison is not great — about two miles, I should 
think ; but all Ascension miles must be multiplied at 
least by three, in order to reduce them to the fatigue 
unit of the English mile ; and, despite the assistance 
given by my never-failing friend Jimmy Chivas, some 
of us found the way long and tiring. One or two 
other mules were at our disposal ; but imfortunately 
the Ascension had only one side-saddle on board, so 
three ladies had to make alternate use of Jimmy, and 
trust to their alpenstocks for the rest. 

This time our road lay in exactly the opposite direc- 



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CH. XXII. Coast Scenery. 249 

tion to that we had taken in seeking for the Blow-hole. 
We now turned our steps towards Long Beach, past 
the turtle ponds. At first we skirt the foot of Cross 
Hill, whose steep sides of red cinders keep oflf all view 
and all coolness; but, these past, the breeze again 
rushes down upon us, the country opens uj), the 
*' Three Sisters " rise gracefully from the plains, and 
away in the distance " Green Mountain '* and its 
floating clouds fill the east horizon with a beautiful 
mystery. 

Beyond Long Beach, a point of rocky ground runs 
out into the sea, very much like South Point, and this 
we had to cross in order to reach Comfortless Cove, in 
the same way as South Point is crossed in going from 
Mars Bay to Gannet Bay* But here the rock is more 
disintegrated, easier to get over, and less picturesque. 
The white colour is mostly absent, and the prevailing 
tint is a deep red, changing through purplish slate into 
brown. 

It was here ugly, dusty, and temper-trying ; but 
looking up through the quiet liills, a sense of beauty 
was borne upon one unknowingly — that beauty which 
seems to belong so entirely to volcanic scenery — the 
beauty of calm after storm, of peace after tumult ; the 
beauty of the seamed, fire-furrowed face of a quiet 
crater, which, like the beauty of wrinkled faces that 
have passed through the toil and fire of life, demands 
from the heart a greater tribute than mere admiration, 
and gives it in return a feeling of rest and thankful- 
ness that the hot fight is over. 



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250 Six Months in Ascension. en. xxn. 

After passing over this dusty point, where the sea 
was for the most part hidden by the high rocks that 
edge the shore, it was a pleasant surprise to catch all 
at once the blue gleam of the water running into a tiny 
beach of white sand, which narrowed into the gully 
that had appeared, in the distance, but as a crack in 
our rough road. On the other side of this gully the 
ground rises perpendicularly, and forms a table -land, 
on which paths have been traced and broad level 
spaces cleared of ashes and clinker. Altogether, the 
place presented to us just such an appearance as, no 
doubt. Mars Bay presents, now that om* tents are gone, 
to any stranger wandering on the southern shore of 
Ascension. 

But here there was something besides. As we 
looked over the edge of the sea-sawn gorge, we saw a 
little cluster of white-washed graves lying in its bosom. 
Here there were no broken, crumbling -walls ; for tlie 
island shore had thrown itself aroimd the sacred spot, 
sheltering it in faithful arms, strong and sure as its 
own existence ; and the sleepless sea kept watch. 

We did not go down into the vaUey, but rested on 
its rocky side ; and here a waking dream stole over 
me, bom of the sad scene and of the words of our 
guide — " A ship in quarantine for yellow fever landed 
her sick here, and many of them died." 

Strong men are busy pitching tents in nervous haste, 
for wives and comrades are sickening in the sun, and 
there is none to help — no friendly neighbour to offer a 
cup of cold water to parched lips, no kindly hand to 



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cH. XXII. A Sad Picture. 251 

smooth a fever-tossed pillow. They are alone with 
God and with their sorrow, and some of them are sick 
unto death. 

Now I can see a sad company of men, bearing living, 
dying burdens up the steep shores from where the 
plague-stricken ship lies anchored; but not a sound 
breaks the stillness, save an occasional moan which 
the toilers are too sad to answer, for they are bearing 
the future — the heaviest burden of the human soul — 
perhaps are envying those whose sufferings are pass- 
ing away, and fearing, " Shall there be no man left to 
bury uz ? " 

Again and again I see sad, silent processions wend- 
ing their way down into this sheltered nook, growing 
smaller, more sad and more silent each time that 
another and another member of the doomed company 
is borne to his last resting-place, until at last my eyes 
grow so dim with tears, that past and present are 
blotted from my sight. 

How many died I know not, but it seemed to me as 
if all must have suffered equally — the survivors as 
much as those that are left behind in the little valley — 
struggling with Death in this dreary solitude, living in 
close communication with him, watching his ravages 
and waiting for his coming. Did any go mad, or did 
Christian faith and the courage of noble souls soften 
this awful experience into a gentle memor}% refining 
the heart ? God knoweth and God judgeth. " Let 
the earth rejoice." 



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CHAPTER XXIII. 

CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS. 

A hot New Year's Day. — ^A rifle match. — Rueful knights. — Bravo the 
Ascension/ — A domestic excitement. — " Too many cooks spoil the 
broth." — Fish waiting for Soup. — The party behind the chairs. — 
In quest of Turtle. — A lovely night. — No success. — ^Another 
attempt. — South-west Bay. — Poor Pussy. — Lost on the Clinker. — 
Tired and Turtleless. — Boatswain Bird Island. — Among the biixis. 
— A noisy reception. — A painful greeting. — Collecting Specimens. 
— A cloud of birds. — No guano. • 

New Year's Day, 1878, was a hot day in Ascension, 
And we tried hard to keep cool by recalling former 
JNTew Year's Days spent in Scotland, much to the dis- 
advantage of the present one. 

What a burden life becomes when its chief end is to 
war against heat ! Life, did I say ? It is only exist- 
ence in such latitudes, and with brain half-awake you 
speculate dreamily about life, with its hurry and fever- 
ish bustle, as a thing far off and beyond you ; and if 
sometimes you try to grasp it, nerves and spirit fail, 
you miss it, and, worn out with the effort, sink back 
into a deeper lethargy than before. That is to say, if 
you do not wear some gre-gre strong enough to defy 
the ievil power of indolence — a Fetish too evil and too 
powerful in these climes to be easily overcome. But 



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OH. XXIII. A Rifle Match. 255 

English pluck and Scotch endurance can do it. Stay 
at home, or hang these gre-gres round your neck. 

In Ascension each man wore one ; and at six o'clock 
this New Year's morning my husband and two of the 
island oflScers were hard at work, practising for a rifle- 
match that they were to shoot the same afternoon 
against three officers of H.M.S. Seorgull, then in 
harbour. 

David was sadly out of practice ; neither did the 
scoring of his allies, in this preliminary canter, give 
much promise of success, especially as their opponents 
had a high reputation as marksmen. The fear that 
the island should be beaten by the strangers, was 
strong enough to get up an excitement among us: 
positively alarming in such weather ; and the spirit of 
" buckling on the armour *' showed itself to be still 
alive in wifely bosoms. 

At four P.M., the tourney commenced, and from the 
door of Commodore's Cottage I had full view of the 
range. I could see the marker's flags as they rose 
and fell — ^yellow, outer — ^blue, centre — red and white, 
" bull's-eye ; " but this became monotonous, when I 
could not see who fired the shots. So by-and-by twa 
other ladies and I walked across to a tent, that had 
been placed near the range for onlookers. There we 
watched each shot with great interest, but the buckling- 
on-the-armour spirit, as well as every other sentiment 
of the fine old times of chivalry and romance, fled at 
sight of white flannel suits and braided uniforms 
covered from top to toe with the Gregory's-powder* 



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254 ^^^ Months in Ascension. ch. xxm. 

coloured dust of the country. What rueful figures our 
knights presented! They shot very badly too, but 
fortunately the '* Seagulls " shot worse, and H.M.S. 
Ascension came off victorious by nineteen points. 
Bravo, the Ascension! 

On the day following I had another excitement, more 
peculiarly my own. With a menage consisting of a 
blue-jacket and a Krooman, we were bold enough to 
give a dinner-party — or at least to invite four guests, 
and trust to the chef of the Island Bakery to furnish a 
suitable repast. But my trust was not strong, having 
already had experience of his skill in small details ; 
and, notwithstanding the re-assuring fact that on one 
occasion he had been curry-maker to the Duke of 
Edinburgh, I awaited the coming of our little fete-deiy 
with a certain amount of nervousness. 

What a day of bustle it was ! One would have 
thought the Lord Mayor and the Corporation of 
London were about to be entertained ; and such was 
the fuss, that I began to feel as if my party must 
be growing every hour. 

But if the commotion was great during the day, by 
night it had swelled into a panic. Silver entree-dishes 
from the officers' mess were seen borne aloft on the 
sable head of a Krooman, giving him quite a kingly 
air ; the more so, that he was the only one of the flying 
messengers that had not lost his dignity and stately 
pace. Presently a little dark-eyed St. Helena boy 
rushes past with six champagne glasses in danger of 
their fragile lives. Then, across their path, bursts, like 



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CH. XXIII. A Dinner Party, 255 

d. meteor, a red-faced, white-aproned cook, with a stew- 
pan from the mess galley. A heap of plates and a cold 
tongue arrive from an opposite direction — canteen-ways. 
Viands approach from the four points of the compass, 
and gradually the bustle increases until a climax is 
reached at the door of the Bakery. 

It appears that the baker had pressed into his 
service all willing hands, and had invaded every 
galley where talent was to be found, no doubt with a 
good purpose ; but when I sniffed from afar this hm'ry- 
ing to and fro, I trembled for the consequences, and 
bethought me of a certain Scotch proverb, which says, 
*' Too many cooks spoil the broth." 

Om' guests arrive punctuallj- at 7 p.m., and I meekly 
ask a bright lad who is engaged as a waiter, if dinner 
is ready. 

" Well, ma'am, the fish has been here half-an-hour, 
and everything has come except the soup," is the 
answer of this " enfant terrible." 

Some idea of beginning at the wrong end flits across 
my mind, but I give it up, and resolve to wait for the 
Boup. 

All my housewifely sisters, who know what the pre- 
prandial ten minutes are to their nerves under ordinary 
circumstances, will pity me, left thus to the mercy of 
manj^ cooks, and the agonies of fish waiting for soup. 
However, old Father Time, who carries off so many 
happy moments in his flight, is also kind enough to 
sweep away in their turn such trying moments as 
these, and at 7.15 the soup arrived. 



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256 Six Months in Ascension. 



It says much for the pleasant conversation of our 
friends, that no sooner had we sat down to table than 
I forgot my troubles, and was only sensible of every- 
thing being fairly good, and of a gradual increase of 
waiters as the dinner proceeded. Black waiters and 
white elbowed each other, and there was a good deal of 
knocking about in passing plates, accompanied by such 
stage whispers as " Get along, Jim." " Where's your 
'ead ? " *' Ongtrys, quick ! " On the whole, the party 
behind the chairs seemed to me to enjoy the proceed- 
ings thoroughly, and I only hope that the seated guests 
were as happy in their way. 

The day after this domestic event was a very tire- 
some one. It was the 8rd of January, and had the 
latest news from the Cape been correct, in all proba- 
bility the Mail would be in Clarence Bay before night* 
Under these circumstances, we were tied all the day to 
Garrison, with corded boxes and an unpleasant feeling 
of expectation. But no mail appeared. Our vigilance 
and our boxes were slacked, and as the hours passed 
on, we began to hatch plans for new excm*sions. 

The turtle season had just commenced, but was, as 
yet, unproductive — ^indeed, the watchers had not been 
sent out ; and David and I were stimulated by an ambi- 
tion to turn the first turtle of the season. So, armed 
with the Captain's permission, and a noose for the fins 
of our expected captives, we set out for Dead Man's 
Beach, accompanied by Brackley, about an hour after 
sunset on Saturday evening. 

On this beach no regular watchers are stationed, and 



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cH. XXIII. Under the Stars, 257 

it is the perquisite of the Kroomen to turn all the 
turtles that come ashore here ; a penalty of SI. being 
inflicted on any person or persons found turning turtle 
without a licence. 

Some yards above high- water inark, we came upon 
the little wooden hut used by the Kroomen in their 
watches, but as yet it was untenanted ; and, while my 
husband and Brackley walked softly backwards and 
forwards along the water's edge, I spread out my rug 
here and lay watching the stars. 

It was a lovely night, A pile of heavy, dark clouds 
lay in the east, and every now and again a single 
flake, detaching itself from the mass, would float over- 
head and sully for a moment the pure blue sky, that 
was glittering with hosts of stars. The moon was 
young, and as she gently glided towards the west, her 
crescent horn was reflected in a lake of silver on the 
dark waters of the ocean. When she had sunk to 
rest, then Venus lit up the sea. Never had I seen the 
Planet of Love so brilliant ; she seemed to have cast off 
her own pale beauty, and glowed with the ruddier 
light of Mars. I watched her growing redder and 
redder as she sank lower and lower into the west, till 
at last Ocean, enamoured of her beauty, embraced 
her in his cold arms, and lo ! the sky was dark. 

The noise of the water had been growing fainter and 
more distant in my ears, and I am not certain if the 
dreams that followed were altogether waking ones. I 
know I started unmistakeably when a voice whispered 
close to my ear, *' It is ten o'clock, and there is no 

s 



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258 Six MontJts in Ascension, ch. xxin. 

appearance of turtle. I think of taking you home, 
and then I shall walk out to South-west Bay to try our 
luck there." 

Ten o'clock ! then I must have been asleep. The 
air was blowing so softly that I felt loth to exchange 
my star-lit couch for the stuflfy bedroom at Commo- 
dore's Cottage. But I could not spend the night here 
alone, and not having inclination for a longer walk I 
had no choice but to trot meekly home — serve my lord 
and master with a substantial supper, and go to bed ; 
while he and Brackley again set out, after having 
securely locked me up with the dogs. The poor little 
beasts howled piteously at being left behind. The air 
was stifling, and I did not sleep nearly so well as I had 
done on Dead Man's Beach. I should have fared 
worse, however, had I attempted to accompany the 
hunting party to South-west Bay. 

The tale of their misfortunes was comical. After a 
stiff walk of some three miles across the clinker, they 
reached the beach without mischance, and there, the 
first thing they saw was a dai'k moving object, a few 
yards in front of them. 

Could it be a turtle ? No, it was much too small. 
A wild cat ? Yes — a cat at least, but hardly wild ; 
not even " wildgewordene " (as Dr. Borgen very ex- 
pressively terms the Ascension cats) ; for pussy ad- 
vanced shyly towards David, and rubbed herself on his 
legs ; mewing most pathetically all the while. Then 
she scampered off for a few paces, came back, and tried 
all her powers of coaxing to induce them to follow her. 



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CH. XXIII. A Thirsty Cat. 259 

which they did, till they came to the door of the 
turtle-turners' hut, now empty. Here pussy scratched 
and whined, and, having finally led them to a water- 
butt, became very excited. 

Poor suffering creature ! she had been left behind 
by the men who usually dig limestone here when it is 
not the turtle season, and she was almost dying of 
thirst. David made all haste to get down water for 
her, which she drank most greedily for several minutes 
without lifting her head. Then he filled all the 
" panikins ** he could find and placed them within her 
reach, so that she might be sure of a plentiful supply, 
until her careless owners should return to their work. 

This done, they kept watch upon the beach for 
jabout an hour, but with no result, and then turned 
homewards, tired and ready for bed. But, alas ! there 
were many slips between South-west Bay and Commo- 
dore's Cottage. 

It was now a moonless night, with the sky overcast, 
and they somehow contrived to miss the steep narrow 
path which leads from the beach up to Waterloo 
Plains. After some ineffectual attempts to find the 
lost way, they succeeded in climbing up the face of the 
rock, at the cost of many bruises and much damage to 
clothing. 

Nor were their troubles to end here ; for, instead of 
the expected plain, they still found themselves among 
clinker — everywhere clinker, and wandered painfully 
over the rough ground for some hours. At last the 
clouds cleared away and showed the welcome sight of 

s 2 



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26o Six Months in Ascension, ch. xxnr. 

the Great Bear; and the wanderers, coming at the same 
time on signs of civilization in the shape of broken 
beer-bottles, were able to reach Garrison just before 
daylight — tired and turtleless. 

There was only one excursion during these pleasant 
Christmas holidays that I was not able to take part in ; 
but I need not omit to chronicle it on that account, 
because a paper of my husband's, written at the time, 
enables me to tell probably more of what was to be 
seen, than if I myself had been an eye-witness. His 
description of the abode of the birds interested me 
greatly, and, hoping it may be not without interest to 
my readers, I close this chapter with a long quota- 
tion : — 

*' I had long wished to visit Boatswain Bird Island, 
and fortunately an opportunity for doing so occurred 
during the last week of our stay in Ascension. 

"The owners of a schooner that was frequently 
employed in conveying stores to Ascension had heard 
that on Boatswain Bird Island there were consider- 
able supplies of guano, which they would be glad 
to purchase from the Admiralty, or to convey to 
England for a reasonable freight. To give the 
Admiralty a satisfactory answer to their questions on 
the subject, a visit to the island became necessary; 
and Captain Phillimore having offered me a place in 
the steam-launch, we set off one morning before sim- 
rise to visit the abode of the birds. 

"Ascension in the early morning certainly looks 
its best. A glorious sunrise we had, and the rosy 



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OH. XXIII. Boatswain Bird Island. 261 

sunlight, illuminating the greys and yellows and reds 
of the strange scenery, clothed it with a beauty seen at 
no other time — ^redeemed it from the weird, and trans- 
formed it into the beautiful. 

" Much we enjoyed our sail as far as North-east 
Point, but on rounding that, we encountered the long 
heavy swell from which we had been sheltered in the 
lee of the island, and our little craft began to knock 
about in a way more lively than pleasant. The inte- 
rest in the view of the island began to give way to an 
uneasy sensation, which all sea- voyagers recognize as 
a threatening of worse to come ; but before the alarm- 
ing symptoms had time to develop fully, we were 
safely anchored in the shelter of the friendly rock we 
had come to visit. 

" Only a furlong distant from the main island, it 
rises 300 feet sheer out of 30 fathom water ; its entire 
surface being coloured pale yellow by a thin coating of 
guano, formed by the birds which occupy every nook 
and cranny of the steep sides, and cover nearly the 
whole of the upper surface. 

** The dingey was launched, and we puUed under a 
projecting rock, from which swung a rope-ladder. 
Climbing up, we reached a narrow ledge, whence, with 
the assistance of a rope securely anchored above, a 
good scramble brought us to the top. A perilous 
job it must have been to climb the rock without this 
assistance. 

** But the climb was soon forgotten in the strange 
interest of the place. On the sides we had encoun- 



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262 Six Months in Ascension. ch. xxm. 

tered chiefly the smaller birds, black and white nod- 
dies, and I was much interested to find here in great 
numbers our mysterious Mend of Mars Bay, the 
Sterna leucocapilla. 

''An ornithological Mend had positively assured me 
that on his last visit to this rock, a year ago, not a 
single specimen of this bird was to be found there, but 
now the face of the rock was covered with them by 
thousands. 

" The beautiful white noddies, which I now saw for 
the first time, flew about our heads with angry chirps 
or little screams, and would then look reproach with 
their mild black eyes as they flapped so close to us 
that they could be caught by a quickly outstretched 
hand. No more graceful bird on the wing have I ever 
seen than this delicate and pure white creature, with 
its coal-black eyes, bill, and feet. 

'* Here and there we passed the nests of the beautiful 
' Tropic ' or ' Boatswain ' birds, generally so shy and 
unapproachable ; but woe betide the unfortunate hand 
that disturbs them on their nests, unless with precau- 
tion and good protection. A peck of that strong red 
beak will go to the b6ne, and much amusement was 
afforded by the repeated defeats of our first attempts to 
secure some of the birds. 

"But, if we were greeted with some noise by the 
noddies as we ascended the sides, the sound was but as 
a murmur to the infernal din that greeted our first 
appearance on the top. I had just put my foot on the 
level, when a hideous scream behind me, followed by 



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CH. xxiir. A Colony of Birds, 263 

acute pain in the calf of the leg, made me turn round 
in haste. I found the offender to be a great goggle- 
eyed yellow-billed gannet ; and when I saw the long 
sharp bill and the wicked look of satisfaction at the 
wild work he was making with my trowsers, a sigh of 
thankfulness escaped me that I had not invaded Boat- 
swain Bird Island in a kilt I revenged the damage 
by knocking him on the head. 

"His next-door neighbour, however, did not seem to 
mind the treatment of his fellow in the least. There he 
sat glaring, goggling, and screaming with all his might, 
but not attempting to move, nor did the next, nor the 
next. There they were in rows, side by side, head to 
tail, in hundreds, a compact, screaming, goggling, 
quarrelsome mass. 

"A few steps further, and what is this? A big, 
black, struggling lump with a red sack at one end— 
What can it be ? After a few ineffectual struggles, a 
head developes out of the mass and rises up, a few 
struggles more and legs appear, and then with a flop, 
flop, flop, and half-a-dozen skips, a splendid frigate bird 
gets on the wing and floats away, the picture of ele- 
gance and grace. The great red sack, distended with 
water, hangs below his head like a grand beard, and 
sways gently with every turn of the graceful motion — 
the only speck of colour in his glossy black. 

" Further on, there is more flop, flopping of wings, 
and this time it is not a single bird, but dozens and 
dozens of them, all swinging their sacks and struggling 
to rise, and making morning hideous with their screams. 



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264 Six Months in Ascension. ch. xxm. 

More gannets, more frigate birds, more boatswain 
birds at every step — colony by colony. Many refuse 
to rise at all ; others, having wheeled round three or 
four times, alight again, but all this time they never 
stop screaming — Pandemonium let loose ! 

"A considerable colony of Wide-awakes had estab- 
lished themselves here, doubtless, being warned by 
previous experience, to escape plunder of their eggs by 
the marines and St. Helena boys at the more acces- 
sible Fairs. The habits of these rock-dwelling Wide- 
awakes were, however, in every respect identical with 
those of their brethren on the plains — ^just as bold in 
defence of their eggs, just as stupid in coming within 
reach of capture. 

" And now we set about our business ; the Cai)tain 
to measure the guano, and I to make a collection of 
the birds and eggs. There was no difficulty in getting 
birds, but some trouble in getting a male and female 
of each species, both young and old, as well as some 
eggs of each. In this we at last succeeded, and with 
great care and trouble conveyed the frail eggs down 
the staircase of rope, and brought them in safety on 
board the launch. 

" Then up with anchor and back to Garrison ; but 
before we left, the engineer gave a blast of the steam- 
whistle, and then what a row ! A cloud of birds 
darkened the sky, and we heard their frightened 
screams till we were a mile off. We returned to 
Garrison with high spirits and voracious appetites. 
The birds and eggs were placed in the hands of our 



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CH. xxrii. Guano Supply. 265 

kind and enthusiastic friend Mr. Unwin, who prepared 
the skins for transport to England. 

*' Our search for guano was not satisfactory ; at least 
the quantity that could have been obtained seemed not 
sufl&cient to warrant the expense of the arrangements 
necessary for its shipment. There were only two or 
three inches of pure guano over most parts of the 
island, and in many places the surface was merely 
coated. 

" How long must the great Guano Islands have been 
peopled by sea-fowl to yield the enormous supplies 
that have enriched England ? " 



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CHAPTER XXIV. 

THE devil's riding SCHOOL. 

Our last Excursion. — An early start. — In doubt about the way. — Horse 
Shoe Crater. — Rover in trouble. — ^The Devil's Riding School* — 
Fairy Rings. — What has once been here ? — The Riding School no 
crater. — Saucepan lids. — A stone umbrella. — Broken bottles. — 
Last Observations. — Finis corcmat opus. — Mail in sight. — Fare- 
wells. 

The sun has set on our last Ascension Sunday; but 
a day or two yet remain for us to scramble among the 
clinker, and we have determined on a visit to the 
^'Devn^sEiding School." 

When, from Green Mountain, we had looked down 
upon all the little craters that are scattered over the 
plains, we had longed to get to them, and this was our 
first opportunity. At four o'clock on Monday morning 
we were astir, and, having well broken our fast, were 
ready within an hour to set out crater-climbing. 

Dear old Jimmy Chivas was patiently waiting for 
me, tied to the verandah gate ; Eover, and Brackley's 
little terrier. Captain, were wild with excitement, and, 
while we were getting ready, they kept running hither 
and thither, kicking up dust in all directions, and 
barking furiously ; no doubt to the annoyance of the 



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cH. XXIV. Amongst the Craters. 267 

still slumbering Garrison. Fortunately Jimmy Chivas 
had seen too much of the world's vanities to care to 
join in these frolics, and started off sedately, after I 
had comfortably seated myself on his poor old back, 
and hung from the pommel of the saddle a leather 
bag, containing some bottles of ginger-beer and de- 
signed to carry a return freight of clinker souvenirs. 

The night had been tolerably cool, and, as we turned 
southwards just before sunrise, we were met by a chilly 
breeze that was perfectly delightful. For about a mile 
we trudged along the Mars Bay road, seeing no life 
and hearing no sound but the occasional cry of the 
Wide-awake and the barking of the dogs, as they chased 
in high glee over the clinker a wandering mule that 
had inadvertently crossed our path. Soon we turned 
off obliquely from the main road into a footpath, which 
led us for about half a mile towards a little hill in the 
south-east. So far there was no difficulty, as we had 
received distinct verbal directions ; but having un- 
fortunately packed up our chart, and not finding here- 
abouts a finger-post as we had expected, we now began 
to feel an unpleasant sensation of doubt. 

Here we were on a level plain, surrounded by five or 
six great heaps, any of which might be the Devil's 
Riding School, but which equally well might not ; and 
as these heaps were not mole-hills, the expedient of 
climbing each in turn, until we hit upon the right one, 
would be a fatiguing process. David, however, pro- 
posed to climb at least the little hill at the base of 
which we were standing in indecision, hoping by 



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268 Six Months in Ascension. ch. xxiy, 

this means to gain a clearer notion of our where- 
abouts. 

This he did, and then signalled for me to follow. I 
thought from its description that this heap could not 
be the one we were in search of— it was too red — ^but 
I was glad of an excuse to take it by the way, and, 
leaving Jimmy under care of Brackley, I began the 
ascent, by no means such an easy matter as I had 
imagined, for the slope was at an angle of 45°, and the 
soil was so uncompacted that each footstep created a 
miniature landslip. 

When at last I reached the top, I found myself 
standing on a narrow ridge, surrounding a great flat- 
bottomed basin on all sides except the south-east, 
where the wall was broken away. The ridge rose pre- 
cipitously twenty or thirty feet from the basin, the 
bottom of which was so level that one might have 
played bowls over its whole extent ; a valley on the 
top of a mountain, and so shaped that we had no diffi- 
culty in recognising the " Horse-Shoe Crater.*' 

Abutting from the south flank of this crater, another 
of like form and colour towered twice as high above 
it ; and as we could not quite make up our minds about 
the Riding School from our present position, David 
started on a further voyage of discovery up this higher 
hiU. 

Meanwhile I scrambled down again with many un- 
dignified slips, as the treacherous scoriae broke up 
beneath my feet, and rolled in little fragments upon 
the plain. Once I was seized with a terrible heart- 



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cH. XXIV. An Unpleasant Descent. 269 

thumping as I heard a loud rumble, rumble behind 
me, while faster and faster the red stones came rattling 
down upon my heels. Suppose I have trod on some 
weak part of this great ash-heap, and it is going to bury 
me in revenge ! flashed across my mind before I took 
courage to look behind and beheld that wicked little 
Rover slipping and scrambling down in my wake. 
With white silken paws daintily touching the loose 
red stones, he was borne onwards and downwards, 
amid a cloud of dust. He looked the picture of 
terror, poor little fellow ! and as nothing would induce 
him to go on in front of me, I had no choice but to 
take him in my arms, and, thus laden, complete the 
descent. 

Here at the base I waited until David should reach 
the top of the hill, up whose steep red side he was now 
clambering with hands and knees, hoping that from 
the summit he might be able to look down upon the 
Riding School crater, and direct me to it. Fortunately 
he could do so, and his dark figure stood out so strongly 
against the light backgroimd of the sky, that, when he 
perched himself on the edge of the imbroken crater- 
cup, I was able to see distinctly the direction he indi- 
cated with his alpenstock. 

Thus guided, I rode due east across the plain until 
* I reached a light-coloured hill, lower than some of the 
surrounding ones, but apparently of considerable cir- 
cumference. Here Jimmy and I waited until my hus- 
band overtook us, and then I was glad to learn that we 
were now at the Devil's Riding School. 



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270 Six Months in Asce?tsion. ch. xxiv. 

The lithological formation of the slope which rose 
above us was certainly a contrast to that of the last 
crater I had climbed ; for here we found firm footing on 
the large grey stones well-compacted together, and 
dotted all over with lichens, while meek little tufts of 
coarse grass peeped from the crevices. We reached 
the top without fatigue, and then found that we had 
been so fortunate as to gain at once the highest part 
of the circular summit, which was very irregular, and 
in some places did not rise many feet above the de- 
pressed centre. I say fortunate, because the greater 
elevation enabled us to obtain a clearer idea of the 
whole than we should have done, had we come at once 
upon the level. 

We looked down upon a bit of landscape, so 
extraordinary in its marked contrast to the care- 
less, irregular beauties of a natural hill, that to a 
non-scientific mind it almost suggested the super- 
natural. 

The circus appeared to us about a mile tod a-half 
in circumference, and, from our standing point, it 
seemed to be perfectly level. In the centre there is a 
reddish area of considerable extent, surrounded by a 
narrow rim of a very light sandy colour ; then a dark 
ring, in turn surrounded by a broad white circle ; while 
great masses of rough grey stone form an almost un- 
broken fence round these fairy rings. There is 
indeed one narrow gap — the evidence of an outflowing 
towards the south-east — but, viewed from a little 
distance, this hardly breaks the circle; and in some 



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CH. XXIV. What is the ** Riding School f " 2T\ 

places I should imagine the fence to be as high as 
thirty feet. At such a height we now stood, and 
viewed and wondered. 

What is it that we see ? What has once been here? 
A vomiting of mud P A waterspout ? A lake ? It 
was impossible for us to say, nor could we tell whether 
this too was a hill of sudden upheaval, like the little 
volcanic chimneys around, or if it were some child of 
slower growth. 

On the Admiralty chart the *' Devil's Riding 
School" is marked, " Crater of an old volcano," but 
Darwin, in his " Volcanic Islands," rejects this descrip- 
tion as incorrect, and contends that it is no volcano at 
all. He says, " The hill marked in the map * Crater 
of an old volcano,' has no claims to this appellation 
which I could discover, except in being surmounted by 
a circular, very shallow, saucer-like summit, nearly 
half a mile in diameter. This hollow has been nearly 
filled up with many successive sheets of ashes and 
scoriffi of different colours, and slightly consolidated. 
Each successive saucer-shaped layer crops out all 
round the margin, forming so many rings of various 
colours, and giving to the hill a fantastic appearance. 
The outer ring is broad and of a white colour, hence 
it resembles a course round which horses have been 
exercised, and has received the name of the Devil's 
Biding School, by which it is most generally known. 
These successive layers of ashes must have fallen over 
the whole surroimding country, but they have all been 
blown awaj^, except in this one hollow, in which pro- 



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272 Six Months in Ascension, ch. xxiv. 

bably moisture accumulated, either during an extra- 
ordinary year, when rain fell, or during the storms 
often accompanying volcanic eruptions." 

But whence came the hollow in the beginning, and 
whence the rocks that form its flanks ? Before the 
ashes and scorise * fell, there must have been, in the 
first place, a hill with a hollow summit, rather a novelty 
where there is no volcanic origin, and, as there is cer- 
tainly no other hill on the island except those formed 
by the accumulations of craters, an ignorant observer, 
like myself, would be inclined to ascribe a like origin 
to the Devil's Riding School. This especially, as the 
form — circular, with a depressed summit — is similar to 
that of the surrounding hills. 

To be sure the formation and colour are different, 
and this tells a story intelligible enough to the skilled 
geologist, but a novice in the language of stones is lost 
when a fresh leaf is turned ; and, finding the new page 
unlike the old one, he is glad, after hopeless puzzling, 
to throw away his own bewildered ideas, and rest his 
mind on the master's teaching without question. 

But I had not read Darwin's " Volcanic Islands " 
when I visited the Devil's Riding School, and it was 
with a feeling of baffled curiosity that I descended 
from the lip into the saucer. As we walked across it, 
we found this saucer to be by no means so level as we 

* With regard to these strata of ashes and scoriae, a German writer, 
quoting from Ehrenberg, says, ** Aus organisirt gewesener Substanz er 
iindet einige Kieselschalige Susswasser-Infusorien uud nicht weniger 
als 25 verschiedene arten Kieseliger Gewebe von Pflanzen, hauptsachlich 
von Graiem. " 



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cH. XXIV. " Veins^^ in the Trachyte. ^ 273 

had supposed, and that the outcrop of the various 
strata occurred at very different depths. Dotted over 
many parts of the circus too (particularly on the north 
side), there were little cones of one and two feet in 
height, and, on having their heads knocked off, these 
displayed tiny central chimneys — ^looking as if they 
were meant to represent Ascension in miniature. 

It was all very interesting and curious, and we would 
gladly have spent a much longer time poking about 
among the ashes, had not the sun warned us that by- 
and-by he would make himself very disagreeable on the 
plains. For our descent we chose the north-east 
slope, and found it of a character altogether different 
from that of the south-west, by which we had come 
up. 

Here the stones were mostly loose, and curious 
pieces, like saucepan lids, lay strewn about in every 
direction — ^very metallic in sound when struck with the 
hammer, or against each other, and very hard and 
sharp for the feet, making walking difficult. In some 
places they were securely fixed, and stood out at right 
angles to the slope of the hill. 

I find firom Darwin that these saucepan-lids are 
" veins," which intersect the trachyte in the most com- 
plicated manner. 

He says, '* They are best seen on the flanks of the 
* Crater of an old volcano/ . . . The veins vary 
much, and suddenly, firom the tenth of an inch to one 
inch in thickness ; they often thin out, not only on 
their edges, but in their central parts, thus leaving 



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274 ^^^ Months in Ascension. en. xxiv. 

round, irregular apertures ; their surfaces are ragged. 
They are inclined at every possible angle with the 
horizon, or are horizontal ; they are generally curvi- 
linear, and often interbranch one with another.- From 
their hardness they withstand weathering, and pro- 
jecting two or three feet above the ground, they occa- 
sionally extend some yards in length Their 

fragments, which are strewed' on the ground, clatter 
like pieces of iron when knocked against each other. 
They often assume the most singular forms ; I saw a 
pedestal of the earthy trachjiie covered by a hemi- 
spherical portion of a vein, like a great umbrella, 
sufficiently large to shelter two persons.** 

Curiously enough, we descended at the very spot 
where this umbrella stands, actually alighting on the 
top of it ; imless, indeed, there be more than one such 
phenomenon here, which is unlikely. 

After our dusty climb, we were glad to return to 
Jimmy Chivas, with his burden of ginger-beer. Hot 
and dusty we longed for a draught, but alas! we had 
forgotten a glass, and could not quench om' thirst so 
pleasantly as might have been desired. However, with 
patience and many chokings, we cured the worst of it, 
pouring what remained of the beer into one of the 
stony saucepan-lids for the dogs; but they'd none 
of it. 

Then we filled the empty bag with stony treasures 
from the hill, and left our quota of broken bottles to 
glisten on the clinker. These broken bottles strewn 
everywhere, over plains, roads and hill-sides, form a 



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CH. XXIV. '* Lights out !** 275 

very characteristic feature in the Ascension landscape. 
I wonder, will their *' fossils " puzzle future geologists, 
and lead them to mistake Ascension for the Bass Eock 
of this age ! 

We paid for our lengthened stay at the Riding 
School by a hot, tiring journey home. The sun had 
long since o'ertopped Green Mountain and its clouds, 
and was now shining in an unveiled sky, dazzling 
our eyes and making my head ache, so that I 
greeted with thankfulness the welcome sight of 
Garrison, which we reached a little before noon. We 
were home again from our last excursion on the 
clinker, tired mentally as well as physically; for the 
effort of trying to understand the rough road was 
quite as fatiguing as the exertion of walking over it. 
We felt that there was very much even in this little 
spot of earth that puzzled us, and six months' resi- 
dence on a barren rock of only twenty-eight miles in 
circumference, by no means justified our claiming inti- 
mate acquaintance with it. 

On the evening of the 8th, my husband made his 
last observation for time, in the disused Magnetical 
Observatory across the square from Commodore's 
Cottage. Here he was invaded at 10 o'clock by the 
Corporal on guard, who demanded " Lights out," and 
was much surprised to find that the astronomer was 
not yet quite " packed up," but continued to trans- 
gress rules till the last moment. 

These last Ascension days and nights were cloudless 
— just such days and nights as had greeted our arrival, 

T 2 



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276 Six Months in Ascension. ch. xxnr. 

so that all the necessary tune-observations were com- 
fortably secnred, and everything was well ended. 
FiniB coronat opus. 

Wednesday, 9th. — ^No steamer, and we began to 
wonder whether Ascension had been forgotten ! 
Thursday morning — still waiting; but, while I was 
sitting quietly with my needlewori^ at 4 p.m., the white 
flag and ball were suddenly hoisted on Cross Hill : 
Mail in sight ! 

My needle was left half undrawn, and all at once I 
felt in a bustle, without exactly knowing why, for we 
had been ready a long while. 

Within an hour of signalling, the Warwick Castle 
anchored in Clarence Bay, and, now that she was 
actually here, I almost wished she had not come. I 
did not like saying good-bye, nor did I enjoy the 
prospect of a fortnight's voyage; and, when the 
Captain told us that we might still have some hours on 
shore, I felt as if a respite had been granted me. 
These hours were occupied with last words and adieux, 
not the least touching of which was my parting with 
Eover, who was left, however, with a kind mistress, 
and looked by no means inconsolable. 

At sunset we embarked, and before steam was up 
had time to arrange some comforts in our cabin, 
and to read the home letters which had come by the 
mail. These were delightful, teUing as they did, that 
the Mars Expedition was considered, by those well- 
qualified to judge, to have been energetically and satis- 
factorily carried out — a pleasant thought to be sea-sick 



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cH. XXIV. For the Last Time. 277 

upon, and I felt brave enough for worse trials than the 
Bay of Biscay ! 

What a lovely evening it was, and how gloriously 
the crescent moon and Venus shone over the water and 
silvered the grim red and brown outlines of the 
land! 

" For the last time,*' I said, to myself, as the even- 
ing bugle soimded; and, before its echoes had died 
away, our " Six Months in Ascension '* was a thing of 
the past. 



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CHAPTER XXV, 

HOMEWABD BOUND. 

Cheerful neighbours. — Sunday at sea. — Sitting on deck. — ^Teneriffe 
again. — Cooler latitudes. — Rousing the inhabitants. — ^Funchal by 
moonlight. — ^An unexpected meeting. — ^American Astronomers. — 
Victims of curio vendors. — The Bay of Biscay. — A gale iu 
ChanneL — ^Home. 

And now followed a repetition of sea-discomfort — 
nausea and stuflSness ; but on this occasion it was 
short lived, for after a couple of days the captain 
kindly arranged that our cabin, near the screw, should 
be changed for one on deck, far forward. 

Here we caught the welcome current of air caused 
by the ship's motion, and for the first time in my sea 
experience I awoke in the morning refreshed. I 
awoke too, with the sweet sense of home upon me, and 
pleasant recollections of a certain dear old farmhouse ; 
for my dreams had been mingled with the bleating of 
sheep, the cackling of geese and the crowing of cocks. 
Poor things, there was little chance of their being led 
out to green pastures, or participating ever again in 
the varied pleasures of a fascinating dung -hill. Pri- 
soners they were, under sentence of death, but they 
crowed lustily, and " ba'a ba'aed *' sweetly, neverthe- 



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cH. XXV. Pleasant Voyaging. 279 

less ; and, grateful for the cheer their good spirits 
gave to me, I would hope that they dreamt not of 
to-morrow. I know not whether to ascribe it to the 
inspiriting influence of these, my feathered and four- 
footed neighbours, but certain it is, that on the 
third day of voyaging I could see things straight, 
and had sensations of pleasure in the prospect of 
dinner. 

It was a welcome surprise; and on Sunday I had the 
privilege of being able to attend divine service at sea 
for the first time. Always and under all circum- 
stances are the prayers and collects of our English 
prayer book touching and beautiful, but they ap- 
peared to me especially so on that Sunday. 

" O Eternal Lord God, who alone spreadest out 
the heavens, and rulest the raging of the sea ; who hast 
compassed the waters with bounds until day and night 
come to an end,*' — words so fitting that it seemed 
as if the murmuring sound of the waters, lapping 
against the ship's sides, was His gentle answer to 
our prayer — " That we may return in safety to 
enjoy the blessings of the land, with the fruits of 
our labours/' 

We had very few passengers on board and only 
three of the number were ladies, yet this was to me an 
almost enjoyable voyage ; for during the greater part 
of the time I could sit on deck all the day, watching 
the dolphins and flying-fish at play in the imruffled 
sea ; and at night, what could be more beautiful than 



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28o Six Months in Ascension. ch. xxv. 

the water lit up by the balls and streams of phos- 
phorescent light, which the ship seemed to cleave 
in her course, throwing them off to right and left of 
her, and leaving a golden river in her wake ? 

Again we are approaching Teneriffe ; and I really 
ought to pass it by without comment, for it is long, 
long ago since Humboldt wrote, ** From every traveller 
beginning the narrative of his adventures by a descrip- 
tion of Madeira and Teneriffe, there remains now 
scarce anything untold." 

Great pens scorn a scribbled page ; but mine must 
not skip (I leave my reader to do that), and I tread 
again the old track in my own footsteps, which are so 
slight that, methinks, a re-impression is their only 
chance of notice. 

Again we are at Teneriffe ; but it is not the Tene- 
riffe of six months ago. Then the Great Peak was in 
sunny summer garb, trimmed with bright floating 
ribbons; now we only see a snow-covered head in 
the heavens, and the horizon below filled with the 
shadowy outline of a giant wrapped in a mantle of grey 
cloud. 

It was here that we sniffed the first breath of 
"caller" air. No more tepid water to. drink; no 
more folding of the hands to rest; and, when we 
arrived at Madeira two days later, the poor little diving 
boys showed blue lips, and shivered as they chattered 
in their scanty dripping garments. 

Having had the welcome news that time would per- 



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cH. XXV. Funchal Again. 281 

mit of our going ashore at Funchal for a few hours, we 
were very impatient for the custom-house and health- 
officers to come off while daylight lasted. But, accord- 
ing to their usual wont, they did not hurry, and the 
Captain, getting impatient as well as we, hlew repeated 
whistles and roused splendid echoes among the rocks 
with his monster steam-horn. 

At last two lazy-looking Portuguese officials came 
alongside, whereupon one of them called out in his 
distinct foreign English, " Sorry, Captain, hut I think 
somebody on board has got a very sore throat." 

*' Sore throat ! " said the Captain. " No ; why 
should you think so ? " 

"Because very hoarse cries come from your ship 
and disturb us," was the answer, with a good-humoured 
laugh ; and the joke was enjoyed by all on board, in- 
cluding the Captain himself, whose noisy method of 
commanding attention in lazy ports was well known to 
all the ship. 

After some lively bargaining from the gangway, a 
party of us got into a boat and rowed ashore — ^unfor- 
tunately just as the sun was setting; but soon a 
glorious moon took his place, and, seen by her light, 
the group of dusky men, who almost seized upon us as 
we set foot on the beach, clamouring to be taken as 
guides, was a striking and strong-coloured picture. In 
the rising background glimmered pretty white houses ; 
and there was quite light enough for us to admire the 
glorious masses of red and purple Bougainvillea, which 



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282 Six Months in Ascension. ch. xxv. 

over-ran the garden-walls and terraces, making a per- 
fect Eden to our flower-starved eyes. 

We were in search of no lions, and wanted no guides 
— simply a stroll on terra Jhrma, and a peep down the 
narrow streets. Everywhere, as we passed along, dark 
eyes questioned us with curious glances; and every 
now and then we encountered some portly matron en 
route for an evening party — ^not in a fly, nor in a sedan 
chair, hut in a " thing," partaking somewhat of the 
nature of hoth : a sort of wheelless couch, or rather 
sleigh, hung with curtains, and generally dragged by a 
couple of small bullocks. 

Everything was dragged up and down these steep, 
slippery streets, which are mostly paved with small 
pebbles, edge upward, and worn smooth by constant 
fiiction. This mode of locomotion seems easy and 
pleasant, and certainly gives an air of repose and 
leisurely dignity to the scene. Life seemed to pass 
slowly on this pretty island, and, in the feverish 
bustle of London life, one's thoughts turn to it with a 
sense of rest. 

By the merest chance, my husband heard that an 
American astronomical party was here for the purpose 
of making longitude determinations ; so, leaving me in 
the hands of some of our fellow-passengers, he went 
ofi^ to find out these kindred spirits. This he had no 
difficulty in doing, and they welcomed him most kindly 
and courteously ; one of the party taking the trouble 
to bring a chronometer on board to compare it with 



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ou. XXV. Fellow Astronomers. 283 

ours, thus making a strong rivet in our longitude run 
from Ascension to England. 

Meanwhile I searched several of the shops, hoping 
to buy some of the cotton embroidery which at home 
we value so much for trimmings, but I could find none 
so good nor so cheap as what I had seen in London ; 
so I confined my purchases to some sprays of feather 
flowers and a few fancy baskets, all of which I lost at 
Plymouth ! 

The meeting of our party at the boat was most 
amusing. Everybody had been victimised in some 
way by curio vendors except David, who was empty- 
handed, and kept an anxious eye on his American 
friend with the chronometer, when, at the last, wicker- 
chairs and other goods were being thrown helter- 
skelter into the boat. We were a perfect floating 
bazaar, with our baskets, chairs, poodles, embroidered 
eggs, walking-sticks, mats (sewn with soap-berries and 
Job's tears), and such like. 

Some yoimg officers who were of our party had 
decked themselves with peasant caps, made of soft 
black cloth, fitting tight to the forehead, and termi- 
nating in a long upright peak, which gave them 
quite an air of Mephistopheles in the moonlight. 

These hours ashore made a charming variety in the 
monotony of sea-life and were perfectly enjoyable, if 
one could but have forgotten the Bay of Biscay lying 
between this peaceful haven and Plymouth Harbour. 
After Madeira the weather became quite cold, and all 



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284 Six Months in Ascension. en. xxv. 

summer attire rapidly vanished into trunks, giving 
place to long-neglected serge gowns and fur overcoats ; 
still wind and sea were gentle, and it was only when 
within two days of home that the fietce of sky and water 
changed for the worse. 

From that time things continued to grow worse and 
worse, until the last night, when it blew a regular gale 
in the Channel. The sea ran very high, and every 
lurch of the ship sent a flood of water sweeping over 
the decks. Heavy boxes were skipping about the 
cabin, where I lay packed into my berth with numerous 
piUows, sick and excited. It was especially miserable 
during the night, which I am sure is the longest on 
record. All through its weary dark hours the Captain 
was on the bridge, and constant signalling went on to 
the engine-room ; but so thick were fog and blinding 
rain and so strong the current, that we were able to 
make neither the Lizard nor the Eddystone Light- 
house, and daylight found us several miles up Channel, 
with Plymouth behind us. 

But a few turns of the screw brought us back again, 
and at noon on the 24th of January we once more set 
foot on England. Dear old England ! Still warm to 
our hearts, in spite of her cold reception of wind, rain, 
and snow-showers. 

Land — England — a fireside ! It is only when these 
are again in sweet possession that one thoroughly 
enjoys travelling. Then, when all bodily fatigue and 
discomfort are forgotten, and there still remain in the 



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CH. XXV. Home. 285 

mind pleasant pictures of strange life and scenes, and 
in the heart the softening influence of a wider know- 
ledge of men and things — ^it is then that the delights 
of travelling are fully known, for it is then, and only 
then, that one is able to enjoy to the full the pleasures 
and privileges of Home. 



THE END. 



BRADBURY, AONEW, & CO., PRINTERS, WHITEPRIAR8, LONDON. 



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MR. MURRAY'S LIST 



OF 



THE BIBLE AND PRAYER-BOOK. 



THE SPEAKER'S COMMENTARY. 

THE HOLY BIBLE, according to the Authorised 
Version, A.D. 1611, with an Explanatory and Critical Com- 
mentary, and a Revision of the Translation^ By BISHOPS 
and CLERGY of the ANGLICAN CHURCH. Edited by 
F. C. COOK, M. A., Canon of Exeter, Preacher at Lincohi*s Inn, 
and Chaplain in Ordinary to the Queen. Medium 8vo. 

THE OLD TESTAMENT. 

Vol I. 80f. The Pentateuch:— 

GENESIS Edward If arold Browne, D. D. , Lord Bishop of Winchester, 

^JEXODUB, Chap. L-ZIZ. The Editor. 
x iV n' fc u ? '. ^. ^. .*r.^ } SAMUEL CLARK, M.A., late Rector of Eaton Bishop. 

- mrmna / T. E. ESPlN, B. D., Chancellor and Canon of Chester. 

I fPMBB UB I J p THRUPP, M. A., late Vicar of Barrmgton. 

SEUTERONOmr Canon ESPIN, B. D. 

Volt. n. k m. 86i. The Historioal Booki:— 

JOSHUA Canon EsPiN, B.D. 

"^^SSbl* ..?^yT^'...f!t"} ^'^ ARTHUR Hervev, D.D., Lord Bishop of Bath and WcVs. 
■vTvam vnnv nv vtwaa /GEORGE RAWLINSON, M.A.. Canon of Canterbury and Camden Pro- 
:FISBT book or KWOB ^ f^^^ ^f Ancient History at Oxford. 
HBCONDBOOKof KOTOS, ) 

OHBONIOLES, EZLA, } Canon RawLINSON. M. A. 
HSHBKIAH, ESTHER) 

Vol IV. 24i. The Poetical Booki:— 

JOB The Editor. 

(G. H. S. JOHNSON, M.A., Dean of Wells. 

.78ALK8 ^ The EDITOR. 

". Elliott. M.A., Hon. Canon of Christ Church, 



(G. H.S.J 
{ The EDIT 

tc. T. ELL 

fE. H. PLUMPTRE, M.A., Prebendary of St Paul's, Vicar of Bickley, 
X and Professor of Pastoral Theology, King's Collttre. London. 
W. T. BULLOCK. M.A., Prebendary of St Pauls. 



Z00LB8IA8TBS W. T. BULLOCK. M. A., Prebendary 

Bona OF SOLOMON.... T. KiNGSBURY. M.A., Prebendary of SaUsbury. 

Vol v. SOs. Isaiah and Jeiemiah. 
W. KAY, D.D., Rector of Great Leighs. 



J KRKMTAW * LAMl^O ,( PAYNE SMITH, D.D., Dean of Canterbury. 



TATIOHS.. 



VoL YI. 861. EseUel, Daniel, and fl^e Twelve Xinor Propheti. 

G. CURREY, D.D., Master of the Charter House. 



•nA wrvT / H. J. ROSE, B.D., late Archdeacon of Bedford. 

DAMSEL |j M. FULLER, M. A.. Vicar of Bexley, Kent 

H08BA aad JONAH. ... E. HuxTABLE. M.A.. Prebendary of Wells. 
"^raJiSS^!^.??!!.^} ^ GANDELL, M.A., Professor of Arabic, Oxford. 
wJOEL and OBADIAH .. F. MEYRICK, M.A.. Rector of Blickling with Erpinghanu 

mOAH * HABAKXXnC Sam. Clark, M. A., and the Editor. 

^i^AvbiS^^f^'.}'^' ^"^^*^ M.A, Hon. Canon of Worcester. 

6 Vols. Medium 8vo. £6 15^. 



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UR. HURRAY'S LIST OF 



Aim I^Mitkmg, 

THE SPEAKER'S COMMENTARY. 

THE NEW TESTAMENT, with an Explanator^t 
and Critical Commentary, and a Revision of the Trans- 
lation. By BISHOPS and CLERGY of the ANGLICAN 
CHURCH. Edited by F. C. COOK, M.A., Canon of Exeter, 
Preacher at Lincohi's Inn, and Chaplain in Ordinary to the Queen. 
4 vols. Medium 8vo. 

▼•U.I.*n. eoipdaaadAeto:- 
^Ttfir'' "^'^'T^}^"' THOMSON, D.D., Lofd Archbishop of York. 
ST. MATTHIW aai) H. Longuevillb Mahsel. D.D., late Dean of St. FauFs, and the 

•T. MARX ) EDITOR. 

ST LVXl W. BASIL JONES. D.D.« Lord Bishop ofSt David's. 

«. TAm r B. F. Westcott. D.D.. Canon of Petertx>roueh. and R^us Prof, of 

"•'"■" \ Divinity at Cambridge. 

XHX ACTS W.JACOBSON.D.D., Lord Bishop of Chester. 

▼•LUX. IptottM«f ft PmI:— 

/ E. H. GIFFORD, D.D., Hon. Canon of Worcester, Rector of Much 
* \ Hadhani, and Examining Chaplain to the Bb>hop of London. 

f T. S. EVANS, Canon of Durtiam. and Professor of Greek in Durhaim 
. { University. 

(J. Waits, M.A, Vicar of Norham, Northumberland. 
J. S. HOWSON. D.D., Dean of Chester. 






njJM MakMnSS* * h ^ Jhkbmie, D.D.. bte Dean of Uncohu 
gAW,. g OMWIIT a il B. ?tanon WESTCOTT, D.D. 



T gw^Wt P lACT. g^wM. ALEXANDER. D.D., Lord Bishop of Derry and Raphoe. 
PASTORAL EPISTLIf .. JOHN JacksoN. D.D., Lord Bishop of London. 

▼•LIT. OOhdioSpirtlMaBdlUirdatiaa:— 

SnSTLB or ST. JAmS ROBERT SCOTT. D.D.. Dean of Rochester. 

XPISTLB8 OF ST. JOBH WM. ALEXANDER, D.D., Lord Bishop of Deny and R^hoe. 

. ( J- B. LiGHTFOOT. D.D., Canon of St. PauTs, and Margaret nx>fessor- 

ST. TITKR * ST. Jin>l< of Divinity at Cambridge. 

\J. R. LUMBY. B.D.. Incumbent of St. Edward's, Cambridge. 
XSm;ATIOir OP ST.) ^„ lee, D.D., Archdeacon of DuWin. 



THE EPISTLES OF ST. PAUL TO THE CORIN- 

THI ANS. The Greek Text, with Critical Notes and Dissertations.. 
By A. P. STANLEY, D.D., Dean of Westminster. Fourth 
Edition. 8vo. i8j. 

THE PSALTER OF 1539. A Landmark of the English. 
Language. With Preface and Notes. By Rev. JOHN EARLE,. 
M.A, Prebendary of Wells, and Professor of Anglo-Saxon at 
Oxford. Square 8vo. 



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THEOLOGICAL AND RELIGIOUS PUBLICATIONS. 3 
THE NEW TESTAMENT. Edited with a plain 

PRACTICAL COMMENTARY for FAMILIES and GENE- 
RAL READERS. Third Edition. With loo Illustrations. 
2 vols. 8vo. 2 1 J. 

VOL. I.— THE GOSPELS. By EDWARD CHURTON, 
M.A., late Archdeacon of Cleveland and Rector of Crayke. 

VOL. IL— THE ACTS AND EPISTLES. By W. BASIL 
JONES, D.D., Lord Bishop of St. David's. 

The Illustrations in this work consist of Panoramic and other Views 
of Places mentioned in the Sacred Text, from Sketches and Photographs 
made on the spot by Rev. S. C. Malan, M.A., and the late James 
Graham. 

** This ' Commentary * is not less marked by accuracy and sound learning, than by 
judgment, candour, and ^\tX.y J"— Guardian. 

"A Book for all time." — Noies andQiteries. 

" This beautiful book."— y^An Bull, 

** In this edition of the New Testament, the results of modem travel, of modem 
discovery, of modem criticism, are brought together and made available for instruc- 
tion." — A tJutueum. 

•* These volumes will be sought after." — English Churchman. 

** A work of great elegance and sotmd scholar^p. A most valuable book, complete 
and satisfactory in its details. As a gift-book it will be most apiuropriate aad in- 
valuable."— £/>»w« Revinv. 

A DICTIONARY OF THE BIBLE: comprising m 

Antiquities, Biography, Geography, and Natural His- 
tory. By Various Writers. Edited by WILLIAM SMITH, 
D.C.L., and LL.D. Editor of the "Classical and Latin Dic- 
tionaries." With Illustrations. 3 vols. Medium 8vo. 5/. 5 J. 

" Dr. Smith's ' Bible Dictionary' could not fail to take a very high place in English 
literature ; for no similar work in our own or in any other language is for a moment 
to be compared with \t.^— Quarterly Revinv, 

** By such a work as Dr. Smith's ' Bible Dictionary/ every man of intelligence may 
become hb own commentator." — Tinus, 

*' Oiur Churches could scarcely make a better investment than by adding this woiic 
of unsurpassed excellence to their pastors' library." — Baptist Magazine, 

"A repertory of invaluable Biblical lore." — Literary Churchtnan. 

** A magnificent undertaking worthy the great name of its Editor, and At great 
body of eminent men he has gathered around him." — Christian Witness. 

**A book of reference alike for scholar and student The most complete, letmed, 
and trustworthy work of the kind hitherto ^ftoduced."^'Athenaum. 



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MR. MURRAY'S LIST OF 



FOR FAMILIES AND STUDENTS. 

A CONCISE DICTIONARY OF THE BIBLE. Con- 

denscd from the larger Dictionary. Edited by WM. SMITH, 
D.CL. With Maps and 300 Illustrations. Medium 8vo. 2ix. 

FOR SCHOOLS AND YOUNG PERSONS. 

A SMALLER BIBLE DICTIONARY. Abridged from 

the laiger Work. By WM. SMITH, D.CL. With Maps, 
Illustrations, and Woodcuts. Crown 8vo. 7^. 6f/. 

"An inTaluable service has been rendered to students in the condensadon of Dr. 
Wm. Smith's ' Bibk Dictionaiy.' llie work has been done as only a careAU and intelli- 
gent scholar could do it, which preserves tu us the essential scholarship and value <^ 
each zrtklc"'—BrituA QuarUrfy Review. 

THE BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER, illustrated 

with Borders, Initial Letters, Woodcuts, and Notes explaining 
THE Order and History of the Offices. By Rev. 
THOMAS JAMES, M.A., late Honorary Canon of Peterborough. 
8vo. i&f. doth; 31J. 6d. calf; 361. morocco. 

The Embellishments of the present edition consist of Ornamental 
Scrolls, Foliage, Head-pieces, Vignettes, together with Borders, and Initial 
Letters print^ in r^^and bla^kj and the following Historical Engravings, 
to illustrate the Gospels, from the works of the early Masters : — 

'* The number, variety, and beauty of the devices that enrich the pages, far surpass 
anything that has been done in decorative printing." — The Spectator, 

" A noble devotional volume and fitting Christian manual " — The Times. 

" Not surpassed by the life-engrossine laborious productions of those good old 
transcribers in cloistered celb of the past*' — The Momin^^ Post. 

"There is not a page which has not something worthy of commendation.'*— 
Athefueum. 

" It is impossible to speak too highly of the exceeding beauty of this work.**— • 
Cambrii^ Chronicle. 

FRAGMENTARY ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE HIS- 

TORY OF THE BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER. From 
Manuscript Sources (Bishop Sanderson and Bishop Wren). By 
WM. JACOBSON, D.D., Bishop of Chester. 8vo. St. 



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THEOLOGICAL AND RELIGIOUS PUBLICATIONS. 



CHURCH HISTORY. 



A DICTIONARY OF CHRISTIAN ANTIQUITIES. 

Comprising the History, Institutions, and Antiquities 
OF THE Christian Church. By VARIOUS WRITERS. 
Edited by WM. SMITH, D.C.L., and Rev. PROFESSOR 
CHEETHAM, M.A. With Illustrations. VoL I. (To be com- 
pleted in 2 vols.) Medium 8vo. 31J. da?! 

This Work commences at the point at which the ** Dictionary of the 
Bible " leaves oflf, and gives an account of the Institutions of the Chris- 
tian Church from the time of the Apostles to the age of Charlemagne. • 

"This valuable dictionary brings within easy reach a vast mass of information, 
access to which has hitherto been restricted to a few, and it deserves to occupy a placfe 
in the libraries, not only of the clergy and of ministers of the various denommations, 
but of all educated laymen."— ^ianaard. 

*' We welcome with genuine pleasure the initiatory volume of this long-expected 
and long-desired work. Our first few glances at the articles surprised us into the 
confession that the thoroughness and completeness of its execution have exceeded our 
highest expectations. It distances all its compeers in its own line, whether German 
French, or English.** — English Churchman, 

A DICTIONARY OF CHRISTIAN BIOGRAPHY, 

LITERATURE, SECTS, and DOCTRINES. By VARIOUS 

WRITERS. Edited by WM. SMITH, D.C.L., and Rev. 

PROFESSOR WACE, M.A. Vol. I. (To be completed in 

3 vols.) Medium 8vo. 31J. dd. 
This Work is designed to give a comprehensive account of the Per- 
sonal, the Literary, the Dogmatic, and the Ecclesiastical Life of the 
Church during the first eight centuries of Christianity, and, in com- 
bination Mdth the Dictionary of Christian Antiquities, it will afford, it 
is believed, the most complete collection of materials fer the Church 
History of that period which has yet been published, either in England 
or abroad. 

" It is a great credit to English scholarship and English theology to have produced 
a work like this, full of the results of original and laborious study, which people on 
different sides of disputed questions, and differing in view possibly from the writers of 
the articles, may consult with so much confidence, that they will find sound and 
valuable information. The editors may with justice put forward the claim that the]^ 
have made accesdble to all educated persons a great mass of information hitherto 
only the privilege of students with the command ot a large library." — Times, 

" We not only admit the oi>portuneness of this enterprise, of which the first volume 
is before us, but we welcome it with acclamation. The conductors will coiifer a great 
benefit upon the English Church and clergy indeed, but specifically upon students 
whose knowledge is confined to their mother tongue, by projecting and carrying 
through a Dictionary of Christian Biography in which the same patient industry, the 
same scrupulous fairness, the same paramount regard for the interests of historical 
truth is maintained, as in previous members of this important series. For ' practical 
purposes,' as they say, the editors have produced one of the most useful works of 
thb generation."— C^<n:A Quarterly Revieiv, 



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MR. MURRAY'S LIST OF 



A HISTORY OF THE ANCIENT WORLD, from 

the EARLIEST RECORDS to the FALL of the WESTERN 
EMPIRE, A.D. 476. By PHILIP SMITH, B.A., Author of 
"The Student's Old and New Testament History," &c Fourth 
Edition, with Maps and Plans. 3 Vols. 8vo. 3IX. 6d, 

" Hit points of tnuwdon are well chosen, and his wide and various panorama of 
Drincmahties, powen, and dominicMts clearly arranged. He has aTsuled himsdf 
liberally of toe new lights thrown by recent discovery and philology upon the annals 
of the East ; and in all that relates to the oriental empires and African kingdoms or 
republics, his wotk is fiur in advance of any Ancient History in our language."— 
Satttnimy Review, 

** In relating not only all the leading events of the qx)dis here referred to, but also 
the remarkable incidents of the periods between the respective epochs, one great and 
tare power was required— that of condensation. There are cases in which an 
historian not only ha[s siq>erabundance of materials, but he is bound to use them alL 
Such a case has existed here ; and Mr. Smith has been equal to its exigencies. The 
style of the volumes is sustained irith the equal tone o(a sm^e, able, unimpassioned, 
and dignified hi s t o ri a n throughout"— .<4//l^«Mr«iw. 



THE STUDENT'S MANUAL OF OLD TESTA- 
MENT HISTORY. From the Creation of the World to the 
Return of the Jews fix>m Captivity. With an Introduction to the 
books of the Old Testamait By PHILIP SMITH, B. A. With 
Maps and numerous Woodcuts. Post 8vo. 71. 6d. 

" Of our own land, as wdl as of Greece and Rome, we have histories of a scholar- 
Uke character ; but Scripture history has not been so carefully or so fully treated 
before. It is not a little suiprising Uiat a aibject of such universal impcMtance smd 
interest shotdd have so long been disregarded. This woric is very able and sch(^axly." 
^WesUyan Times. 

THE STUDENT'S MANUAL OF NEW TESTA- 
MENT HISTORY. With an Introduction, containing the con- 
nection of the Old and New Testaments. By PHILIP SMITH, 
B.A. With Maps and Woodcuts. Post 8vo. 7j. 6</. 

" These Manuals will no doubt obtain a wider circulation than the similar volumes 
•n Greece or Rome, as the subject matter is of wider interest. We are glad to say 
that the tone is eminently reverential*' — Churchman. 

THE STUDENT'S ANCIENT HISTORY OF THE 

EAST. From the Earliest Times to the Conquest of Alexander 
the Great; including Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Media, Persia, 
Asia Minor, and Phoenicia. By PHILIP SMITH, B. A. Wood- 
cuts. Post Svo. 7j. 6</. 



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THEOLOGICAL AND RELIGIOUS PUBLICATIONS. 7 



FOR SCHOOLS AND YOUNG PERSONS. 

A SMALLER ANCIENT HISTORY OF THE 

EAST ; from the Earliest Times to the Conquest of Alexander 
the Great By PHILIP SMITH, B.A. With 70 Woodcuts. 
l6mo. 3 J. 6d, , 

"This book is intended to supply the learaer with some information respecting the 
Eastern nations, with which he comes in contact while reading the histories of Greece 
4ind Rome : and to set before the general reader a brief account of the course of 
ancient civilisation in its earliest seats. Besides this general purpose, the book is 
specially designed to aid the study of the Scriptures, by placing in their true historical 
2-elations those allusions to Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Phoenicia, and the M^do- 
Persian Empire, which form the back-groimd-of the history of Israel from Abraham 
to Nehemiah. The present work is an indispensable adjunct of the ' Smaller 
Scripture History ; ' and the two have been written expressly to be used together.** — 
I're/'ace. 



A SMALLER SCRIPTURE HISTORY OF THE 

OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS, in Three Parts. I.— Old 
Testament History. II. — Connection of Old and New Testa- 
ments. III. — New Testament History to A.D. 7a Edited by 
WILLIAM SMITH, D.C.L. With 40 lUustrations. i6mo. 

"This abridgment omits nothing of vital importance, and is presented in such a 
liandy form that it cannot fail to become a valuable aid to the less learned Bible 
Student. Dr. Wm. Smith's laboiu^ are so well known that it is unnecessary to add 
more than that he has produced the best modem book of its kind on the best book of 
all days and all time." — PeopUs Magazifte, 

** This work is intended for younger cMldren, and contains a good summary of the 
histories of the Old and New Testaments, with a brief summary of the connecting 
period. There are a few notes, intended chiefly for the teacher. It is a perfectly 
marvellous work of condensation, containing as it does, in so small a space, such an 
immense amount of accurate information as to Scripture facts." — yaAn BitlL 

THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH DURING THE FIRST 

THREE CENTURIES. By the Rev. J. J. BLUNT, B.D., 
late Margaret Professor of Divinity at Cambridge. 5th Edition, 6s. 

"The warmth with which he insists on the early and rapid spread of Christianity 
as a proof of its divine origin, the minute and ingenious learning with which he main- 
tains it, the deep importance he attaches to it, recall forcibly to our minds a phase of 
discussion which had almost passed away in the ever shifting polemics of religion and 
infidelity."— ^«ar/rr^ Review. 



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8 IIR. MURRAY'S LIST OF 

THE HISTORY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH. 

From the Apostolic Times to the Reformation, 151 7. By 
J. CRAIGIE ROBERTSON, M.A., Canon of Canterbury^ 
Fifth Edition, revised. 8 Vols. Post 8vo. 6s. each. 

" I cannot conceive, 00 a smaller scale, any work which would more guide students 
into a calm, impartial, candid view of the course of disturbed history and ecdesiastical 
politics, in former or in present times, than Canon Robertson's."— /7r«M ^ West- 
mimsUr, 

** Canon Robertson's work will alwa3rs be esteemed as a text-book {or the student,, 
while the host of references with «^ch he has studded his pages^will be invaluable as^ 
a guide to the more advanced \nq\ixnx.*—SaiMrday Review, 

** Canon Roberts<m's worlc has taken high rank as a standard authority, and has 
endured satisfactorily the ordeal of a searching criticism. From the nature of its 
subject, and the spsux of time it covers, it seems naturally to challenge competition, 
with Dean ICihnan's ' History of Latin Christianity ' ; but, in truth, the two books- 
are written fnun a different point of view, and may be regarded as meeting the wants* 
of different classes of readers."— ^(r<7//(>A GrutrdioH, 

HISTORY OF THE JEWS, from the EarUest Period 
to Modem Times. By H. H. MILMAN, D.D., late Dean of 
St. Paul's. 3 Vols. Post 8vo. i8j. 

CONTENTS. 
I. 
The Patriarchal Age— Israel in Egypt— The Desert— The Invasion— The Conquest 
—The Judges— The Monarchy— Judah and Israel— The|High Priests. 

II. 
The Asmonseans— Herod— The Herodian Family— The R<Mnan Governors— Prepara- 
tions for the War— The War— Siege of Jerusalem— Termination of tfie War — 
Barochab— The Patriarch of the West, and the Prince of the Captivity. 

III. 
Judaism and Chri^ianity— Judaism and Mahommedanism— Golden Age and Iron Age 
of Judaism— Jews in England— Jews expelled from Spam— Jews of Italy — 
Modem Judaism. 

HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY, from the Birth of 

Christ to the Extinction of Paganism in the Roman Empire. By 
DEAN MILMAN. 3 Vols. Post 8vo. iSs. 

CONTENTS. 

The Life of Christ— Christianity and Judaism— Christianity and Paganism — Consti' 
tution of Christian Churches— Marcus Aiurelius the Philosopher— Persecution 
under Diocletian— Constantine and hb Sons— Trinitarian Controversy— Julian- 
Abolition of Paganism— The Great Prelates of the East and West— Jerome and 
the Monastic System— Public Spectacles— Christian Literature— Christianity 
and the Fine Arts. 



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THEOLOGICAL AND RELIGIOUS PUBLICATIONS, 9 
HISTORY OF LATIN CHRISTIANITY, including that 

of the Popes to the Pontificate of Nicholas V. By DEAN MIL- 
MAN. 9 Vols. PostSvo. 54r, 

" This wwk in fact, from beginning to end, will be co-extensive with the Great 
History of Gibbon. It was natural that a Christian and a clergyman should wish to> 
accompany that wonderful performance through its whole course, and place the- 
rdigion, which it so constantly misconceives, in a more favourable light ; and it is 
craditable to the author that, with the sincerest attachment to Christianity, he should 
have accomplished his purpose in so fair and candid a spirit, and with such an exemp* 
tion from professional bias." — West minster Review. 



LECTURES ON THE HISTORY OF THE JEWISH 

CHURCH. By A. P. STANLEY, D.D., Dean of Westminster. 

First and Second Series^ Abraham to the Captivity. With 
Maps. 2 Vols. 8vo. 24J. 

Third Series, from the Captivity to the Christian Era. With 
Maps. 8vo. i^r, 

LETTERS ON THE HISTORY OF THE EASTERN 

CHURCH, with an Introduction on the. Study of Ecclesiastical 
History. By A. P. STANLEY, D.D., Dean of Westmmster. 
Fifth Edition. With Maps. 8vo. I2j. 

CONTENTS. 

TT»e Provmce, Study, and advantages of Ecclesiastical History— The Eastern 
Church— Council c^ Nicaea, a.d. 325— The Emperor Constantine — Athanasius — 
Mahoraetanism and the Eastepi Church— The Russian Church— The Patriarch 
Nicon— Peter the Great and the Modem Church of Russia. 



THE STUDENT'S MANUAL OF ECCLESIASTICAL 

HISTORY. A History of the Christian Church from 
THE Earliest Times to the Eve of the Reformation. 
By PHILIP SMITH, B.A., Author of the ** Student's Manuals 
of Old and New Testament History." With Woodcuts. Post 
8vo. ^s. 6d, 

THE STUDENT'S MANUAL OF ENGLISH 

CHURCH HISTORY, FROM THE REFORMATION TO 
THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY. By Aey. G. G. PERRY. 
Post 8vo. 7j. 6d, 



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lo MR. MURRAY'S LIST OF 

A CHURCH DICTIONARY: a Manual of Reference 
for CLERGYMEN and STUDENTS. By W. F. HOOK, D.D., 
late Dean of Chichester. Tenth Edition. 8vo. idr. 

, " A book which o^gfat to be found on the shelves of every dergyman, beii^ an 
lavaluable nunual of informatioa on every subject pertauninf? to Ecclestology, whether 
«n itt histoi icml, theological, or practical and le^ departments."— J/irrMMt^ CArouicle, 

THE TALMUD AND OTHER LITERARY Re- 
mains OF THE LATE EMANUEL DEUTSCH. With a 
Brief Memoir. Second Edition. 8vo. 12s, 

Contents. 

The Talmid. I Roman Passion Drama. 

Islam. | Sbmitic Palaeography, Culture, ani» 

Egypt, Ancibnt and Modern, i Languages. 

Hermes Trismbgistus. j Samaritan Pentateuch. 

Judeo-Arabic Metaphysics. The Targums. 

Rbnan*s "Les ApiyTRBS." Book or Jasher. 

The (Ecumenical Council. Arabic Poetry. 

Apostolioc Sedis. I 

THE TALMUD: being selected Extracts, chiefly illus- 
trative of the Teaching of the Bible. With an Introduction. By 
JOSEPH BARCLAY, D.D., Rector of Stapleford. lUustra- 
tions. 8vo. 14s, 

THE GNOSTIC HERESIES OF THE FIRST AND 

SECOND CENTURIES. By DEAN MANSEL, D.D. With 
a Sketch of his Life and Character by LORD CARNARVON. 
Edited by CANON LIGHTFOOT. 8vo. lor. 6d. 

** After a careful perusal of these lectures, the reader will know all about Gnostidsnt 
in its various phases of good and evil that he needs to know, and he Mrill have g^ned 
his knowledge delightfully, owing to the skilfulness and lucidity of his teacher. There 
are royal roads to learning when such men as Dean Mansel construct them.**— 
Scottish Guardian. 

* * There is no English work to be compared with this either for scope or for predskm^ 
and we do not expect to see it superseded in our generation, if indeed it ever is 
superseded. It is a book to take its stand as a permanent contribution to the history 
of Christian thought, and will assuredly take its place in every theological library."—' 
Literary Chnrckinan, 

HISTORY OF THE CHURCH OF SCOTUND. 

By DEAN STANLEY, 8vo. ^t. 6d. 



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THEOLOGICAL AND RELIGIOUS PUBLICATIONS, n 



THE NICENE AND APOSTLES' CREEDS. Their 

Literary History, together with some Account of the Growth and 
Reception of the Sermon on the Faith, commonly called "The 
Creed of St Athanasius." By C. A. SWAINSON, D.D., Canon 
of Chichester and Norrisian Professor of Divinity at Cambridge. 
With Facsimile. 8vo. i6s, 

"The work of Canon Swamson must take a high place in the department of 
literature to which it belongs. Indeed, its value can scarcely be overrated. Hence- 
forward it will be considered tAe book on the Athanasian Creed,— a standard treatise 
of permanent worth. Full of learning, breathing a fair and Catholic spirit, evidencing 
patient and long continued study, as well as a mastery of all details, it commends 
itiself to the churchmen and the dissenter, to the ecclesiastical historian and theolo^ 
gian, as a compendium of facts and documents, a well-written text-book with which 
they cannot dispense." — At/ietuentn. 

HISTORY OF THE POPES OF ROME: Political 

and EcclesiasticaL By LEOPOLD RANKE. Translated by 
Mrs. AUSTIN. Sixth Edition. 3 vols. 8vo. 30;. 

'* The best compliment that can be paid to Mr. Ranke is that each side has accused 
liim of partiality to its opponent — the German Protestants complaining that his work 
is written in too Catholic a spirit, the Catholics declaring that, generally impartial as 
he is, it is clear to perceive the Protestant tendency of the history. It is more a 
history of the struggle between Protestantism and Catholicism than a hbtory of the 
Popes alone, and me reader will here find a narrative compiled with extraordinary 
care and acuteness, and written in a noble spirit of Christian benevolence that cannot 
fail to charm him.** — Times, 



HISTORY OF THE CHURCH OF FRANCE, 

FROM THE Concordat of Bologna, 15 16, to the Revolu- 
tion. With an Introduction. By W. HENLEY JERVIS, 
M.A., Prebendary of Heytesbury, and Author of the " Student'^ 
History of France." With Portraits. 2 vols. 8vo. 28^. 

** We do not say that Mr. Jervis is another Grote, but we do say that he has for the 
first time presented the history of the later French Church as a connected whole in an 
English dress, and with a mastery of detail and power of grouping and of graphic 
narration which completely carry the reader alone with him throughout, and cannot 
fail to be most serviceable to the student. Mr. Jervis has supplied a real and im- 
portant desideratum in English literature, and supplied it in a way which deserves 
grateful acknowledgment "•--\S'a/Mn]S«j' Review. 

BOOK OF THE CHURCH. By Robert southey. 

Post 8vo. 7J. 6d, 

THE MESSIAH: A Narrative of the Life, Sufferings, 
Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of our Blessed Lord. Map. 
8vo. i8j. 



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12 MR. MURRAY'S LIST OF 



THE JESUITS : Their constitution and TEACH- 
ING : an Historical Sketch. By W. C. CARTWRIGHT. M.P. 
8va 9x. 

" Although Mr. Cartwright's treadle is modestly entitled a ' Sketch/ and is chiefly 
devoted to exhibiting the great Society in iu least favourable aspects, there are few 
books in the English language which contain so much osefuland trustworthy informa- 
tion on the subject.'*— •Sra/Mmaj' Revitw, 

''A more remarkable book than this on the subject of the Jesmu has never hitherto 
appeared. It is written with unimpassioned impartiality, and may be c(mfidently 
submitted to the study of every sincere member of the Church of Rome, who at least 
does not approve of seeing their venerable pontiff the mere tool of a body <A men who 
seek ends, here described, fay means which Mr. Cartwright renders clear and in- 
telligible.'*— AV/rx amd Querus. 

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF ST. CHRYSOSTOM, 

A Sketch of the Church and the Empire in the IVth Century: 
By Rev. W. R. W. STEPHENS, M.A., BaUiol CoU. Oxon., 
Vicar of Mid-Lavant, Sussex. With a Portrait 8vo. 15J. 

'* Good books on the Christian Fathers are rare in English theology. With surprise 
therefore, as well as with pleasure, we have read this learned and able work on St. 
Chrysostom by an En^ish scholar. Mr. Stephens writes cl«urlv as well as learnedly, 
and his candour and good sense in the treatment of histcmcal, no less than of theo- 
lineal, questions cannot be too hi^y inaised. A far better idea of Chrysostom and 
his times may be gathered from his pages than from the more philosoi^ucal woric of 
Neander/'— J?^rtw«i^r. 



EIGHT MONTHS AT ROME, DURING THE 

VATICAN COUNCIL. By POMPONIO LETO. Translated 
from the Italian. With Appendix containing Original Documents. 

8V0. I2J. 

** A most fascinating book. Tt gives us the impressions of a readent at Rome 
during the eight months of thb Vatican Council. His sympathies are altogether with 
the Liberal Roman Catholics. The book is full of true human interest, toe descrip- 
tions are delightful reading, and the theological discussions are full of instruction."— 
Dai^y Review. 

** It is well known that the author is Marchese Francesco Nobili-Vitelleschi, brother 
to the Late Cardinal Vitelleschi. The position of the writer accounted, in part, both 
for his accuracy and his moderation. The latter feature of his woric strongly contrasts 
with the prevalent tone of the Italian press at the time of the Vatican Council. Vitel- 
leschi is free both from indifference to all religion, and from hostility to Christianity." 
— Record. 



ROME AND THE NEWEST FASHIONS IN 

RELIGION. Three Tracts. By the Right Hon. W. E. 
GLADSTONE, M.P. Containing The Vatican Decrees — 
Vaticanism—The Pope's Speeches. With Preface. 8vo. 
7j. 6r/. 



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THEOLOGICAL AND RELIGIOUS PUBLICATIONS. 13 

SERMONS AND 
DEVOTIONAL WORKS. 



COMPANIONS FOR THE DEVOUT LIFE; A 

Series of Lectures on well-known Devotional Works 

DELIVERED IN ST. JAMES's CHURCH, PICCADILLY, IN 1875-6. 

With a Preface by the Rev. J. E. KEMPE, M. A., Rector. New 
Edition. In One Volume. Post 8vo. 6s, 

CONTENTS. 



J)b Imitatione Christi. Canon Farrar. 
pENSJiES OF Pascal. Dean of St. Paul's. 
St. Francis of Sales' Devout Life. 

Dean of Norwich. 
Baxter's Saints' Rest. Archbishop 

of Dublin. 
St. Augustine's Confession. Bishop 

of Deny. 
Taylor's Holy Living and Dying. 

Rev. W. G. Humphry. 



Theologia Germanica. Canon Ash- 

well 
Fenelon's (Euvres Spirituelles. Rev. 

T. T. Carter. 
Andr^wes' Devotions. Bishop of Ely. 
Christian Year. Canon Barry. 
Paradise Ijost. Rev. E. H. Bicker- 

steth. 
Pilgrim's Progress. Dean of Chester. 
The Prayer Book. Dean of Chichester. 



" The idea of these lectures is admirable and praiseworthy, and the lecturers them- 
selves have carried it out in a large and generous spirit. The volume as a whole is 
eminently good, and suggests to Christian preachers of all denominations a line of 
pulpit instruction which is worthy of their imitation."— ^//^/mA Independeut. 

*'This is a volume of more than ordinary interest. The books selected are well 
known, and favourites with laige numbers of readers. The lecturers have all treated 
their respective subjects simply and practically, their aim having been to make these 
' Companions for the Devout Life ' more companionable and useful than they have 
hitherto been.*— CAwnrA Review, 



THE CLASSIC PREACHERS OF THE ENGLISH 

CHURCH. A Series of Lectures delivered in St. James's 
Church, Piccadilly, during. 1877. With an Introduction,, by 
the Rev. J. E. KEMPE, M.A., Rector. Post 8vo. 7^. (ni. 

,. J. B. Lightfoot, D.D., Canon of St. 
Paul's. 



DONNE {The Poet Preacher) . 



BARROIV (The Exhaustive Preacher) H. Wage, M.A., Prof, of Eccles. Hist, 

Kmgs Coll. , London. 

SOUTH {The Rhetorkiofi) W. C Lake, M.A., Dean of Durham. 

BEVERIDGE {.The ScripturalYW. R. Clarke, M.A., Prebendary of 
Preacher} .,^ f Wells, and Vicar of Taunton. 

IVJLSON {T/te Saintly Preacher) .... F. W. Farrar, D.D., Canon of West- 
minster. 

BUTLER ( The Ethical Preacher) .... E. M. Goulburn, D.D., Dean of Norwich. 



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14 MR. MURRAY'S LIST OF 



THE PARISH PRIEST: His Acquirements, Prin- 
cipal Obligations, and Duties. By Rev. J. J. BLUNT, 
B.D., late Margaret Professor of Divinity of Cambridge. Sixth 
Edition. Post 8vo. 6x. 



CONTENTS. 



Ministerial Character of St. Paul 

Reading of the Parish Priest. 

Composition of Sernums. 

Schools. 

Parochial Minbtrations. 



Past<Mal Conversations. 
Scriptural Azgument for a Ritual. 
Ruturics and Canons. 

True position of the Parish Priest as a 
Churchman. 



" A valuaUe handbook for the young clergymen, and indeed for all 'parish priests' 
who do not consider themselves masters of their duty. The lectures exhibit the 
results of experiaice and much thought, those on the course of reading, or more 
properly of study, adapted to the clergymen <fisplay solid learning critically digested. 
The style is close and weighty.**— .S/Jrr/a/tfn 

UNDESIGNED SCRIPTURAL COINCIDENCES IN 

THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS. An Argument for 
their Veracity. With an Appendix containing Undesigned Coin- 
cidences between the Gospels and Acts, and Josephus. By the 
Rev. J. J. BLUNT, B.D. Eleventh Edition. Post 8vo. dr. 

LECTURES ON THE RIGHT USE OF THE 

EARLY FATHERS. By Rev. J. J. BLUNT. Svo. gs. 

The object of this Work is to induce the theological student to turn 
his attention, next after Scripture, to the Primitive Fathers ; not with 
blind all^iance as authorities to which he must in all things bow, but 
with such respect as is due to the only witnesses we have of the state 
and opinions of the Church immediately after the Apostles' times, and 
such as the Church of England herself encourages. 

PLAIN SERMONS FOR A COUNTRY CONGRE- 

GATION. By Rev. J. J. BLUNT. 2 vols. Post Svo. 12s. 

UNIVERSITY SERMONS PREACHED AT Cam- 
bridge, 1845-1851. By Rev. J. J. BLUNT. Post Svo. 6s. 

"These sermons are emphatically gwni sermons; full of sustained strength and 
quiet power, of a moderation which is evidently the offspring of a mature judgment 
and of a scholarship which is invariably profound, yet never obscure."— vS'r^^/iVA 
Guardtan, 



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THEOLOGICAL AND RELIGIOUS PUBLICATIONS, is 
MASTERS IN ENGLISH THEOLOGY, a Series 

OF Lectures on Leading Divines of the Church of 
England. Delivered at King's College, I^ondon, 1877. With a 
Historical Introduction by Canon Barry, Principal. 8vo. 7^. 6r/, 

HOOKER Canon Barry, D.D. 

ANDREWS Dean OF St. Paul's. 

CHILLINGWOR TH Professor Plumptre, D.D. 

WHICHCOTE and SMITH .... Professor Westcott, D.D. 

JEREMY TAYI.OR Canon Farrar, D.D. 

PEARSON Professor Chhetham, M.A. 

THE WITNESS OF THE PSALMS TO CHRIST 

AND CHRISTIANITY. Being the Bampton Lectures 
for 1876. By W. ALEXANDER, D.D., Lord Bishop of Derry 
and Raphoe. 8vo. lor. 6</. 

** The Bishop of Derry's long-expected Bampton Lectures have been pubh'shed at 
last ; and no worthier contribution to theological literature has been made of recent 
years. The fine appreciation of the poet, the research of the scholar, and the fervour 
of the Christian theologian are conspicuous in its glowing pages. Bishop Alexander 
knows how to charm and delight while he instructs. His style is rich, and yet not 
overloaded ; it is eloquence, not rhetoric. The subtle sense of a poet's imagination 
pervades every page." — Scottish Guardian, 

** There can be no doubt that this volume— which Ls strikingly able and suggestive 
— ^will add to the already high reputation enjoyed by the Bishop of Derry. The 
author has focussed into one centre all the leading ideas in vogue upon the subject he 
has selected for treatment, and has surrounded the whole with a freshness and interest 
which cannot fail to procure for his lectures a sympathetic circle of readers.** — 
Manchester Courier, 



BENEDICITE; OR THE SONG OF THE THREE 

CHILDREN. Being Illustrations of the Power, Bene- 
ficknce, aiid Design manifested by the Creator in His 
Works. By G. CHAPLIN CHILD, M.D. Tenth Thousand. 
Post 8vo. 6s, 

•* Taking the hymn, * O all ye works of the Lord ' as the motive of his book, the 
author has culled from the whole range of Science and natural history such facts as 
illustrate the power and wisdom and goodness of the Creator. It is a happy idea, 
very well carried out." — Church Builder. 

** A book marked by great beauty and simplicity of style, as wdl as scientific 
accuracy. Such books raise and ennoble the mind of the reader by familiarising it 
with the wonders of the earth and heavens, and imbuing his whole spirit with the 
glory of the Architect, by whose Almighty word they were called mto existence." — 
Quarterly Revie^v. 



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i6 MR. MURRAY'S LIST OF 



THE CONTINUITY OF SCRIPTURE, as declared by 

the Testimony of our Lord and of the Evangelists and 
Apostles. By LORD HATHERLEY. New Edition. i6mo. 
2s, 6d. Or crown 8vo. 6s. 

"Under a very moderate Ruue, this volume oootains a condensed and forcible 
argument in support of the Divine authority of the Holy Scriptures and of the truth 
<^ the Christian mterpretation of them. Such a work deserves, for several reasons, an 
«q>ecial welcome. Lord Hatherley, at an anxious conjuncture in religious thou^t, 
has thrown his whole intellectual and moral authority on the side of the received 
£auth. He has thus rendered the Church an immense service, and has earned frtnn 
her a debt of deep gratitude."— TYwirx. 

"We welcome this simple but most forcible testimony to the inspirati(m and 
authority of the Bible. We trust it may be widely circulated."— ^^f^wi 

FOUNDATIONS OF RELIGION IN THE MIND 

AND HEART OF MAN. By Sir JOHN BYLES, late one 
of the Judges of H.M. Court of Common Pleas at Westminster. 
Post 8vo. 6s. 

'* Sir John Byles enables the reader to judge of the facts and ar^ments that have 
satisfied the auUior's mind as to the fundamental truths of the Christian religion ; he 
has added nothing to what has been said before, but he has produced a trustworthy 
epitome of facts and reasoning that must be useful to others, and in a ri^ and 
vigorous old age recorded his testimony for the fundamental truths of Christianity." — 
F^ngluh Church$nan. 

WORSHIP IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. 

ByA. J. B. BERESFORD-HOPE, M.P. 8va 9^. Or, Popukr 
Selections from. 8vo. 2s. 6d. 

" Mr. Beresford Hope's book is calm, temperate, and, to any fair mind, convincing ; 
and it is excellently well arranged." — Literary Churchman, 

" A seasonable as well as valuable contribution to the literature of the day." — 
'Saturday Review, -" 

" Mr. Hope is a man who has a right to be heard in' the great Ritual controversy 
of the day.** — English Independent. 

** Mr. Hope has rightly judged that a layman's view of the present ritual difficulties 
might be useful, and we hasten to say that his book is as valuable as it is opportune" 
-•--Ckurch Rez'iew, 

THE SHADOWS OF A SICK ROOM, with Preface 
by CANON LIDDON. i6mo. 2s. 6d. 

" A little book, evidently the production of a man of deep and thorough piety, yet 
so cultivated that his thoughts when lying sick unto death have thrown themselves 
into definite form, and shaped themselves into that older kind of statelier, or as some 
now-a-days say, of stifTer eloquence, to which we are accustomed in South, and in a 
few of those half-forgotten master-{>ieces of the English Church. The eloquence, 
however, is not artificial, but pours itself out, as it were, like poetry to a poet, the 
rational mode of expression of the mind when heated with a sense of the nearness qI[ 
the Divine. There is in this volume much of the charm derived by so many minds 
from * II Penseroso. ' ^'-"Spectator, 



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THEOLOGICAL AND RELIGIOUS PUBLICATIONS. 17 

LIFE IN FAITH: Sermons Preached at Cheltenham 
and Rugby. By T. W. JEX-BLAKE, D.D., Head Master of 
Rugby. Small 8vo. 3J. 6</. 

AIDS TO FAITH ; a Series of Theological Essays. By 
Various Writers. Edited, by ARCHBISHOP THOMSON. 
8vo. 9^. 

PRINCIPLES AT STAKE: Essays on the Church 
Questions of the Day. By Various Writers. Edited by Rev. 
G. H. SUMNER. 8vo. I2s. 

CHURCH AND THE AGE: a Series of Essays on the 

Principles and Present Position of the Anglican Church. By 
Various Writers. Edited by Rev. W. D. MACLAGAN and 
Rev. Dr. WEIR. 2 vols. 8vo. 26s, 

PRIMITIVE DOCTRINE OF BAPTISMAL Rege- 
neration. By CANON MOZLEY. Svo. 7s. 6d, 

TREATISE ON THE AUGUSTINIAN DOCTRINE 

OF PREDESTINATION. By CANON MOZLEY. A New 
and Revised Edition. Post Svo. 

SERMONS PREACHED IN LINCOLN'S INN. By 

CANON COOK. 8vo. 91. 

CHARACTER AND CONDUCT OF THE APOS- 

TLES, considered as an Evidence of Christianity. By DEAN 
MILMAN. Svo. lor. 6d, 

SERMONS PREACHED DURING THE TOUR OF 

THE PRINCE OF WALES IN THE EAST. By DEAN 
STANLEY. With Notices of some of the Localities visited. 
Svo. gs. 

SERMONS PREACHED AT LINCOLN'S INN. By 

ARCHBISHOP THOMSON. Svo. lOf. 6d. 



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i8 MR. MURRAY'S LIST OF 



LIFE IN THE LIGHT OF GOD'S WORD. By 

ARCHBISHOP THOMSON. PostSvo. 5/. 

UNIVERSITY SERMONS. By DEAN SCOTT. Post 
Svo. Ss. &/. 

THE LIMITS OF RELIGIOUS THOUGHT EXA- 
MINED. By the late H. L. MANSEL, D.D., Dean of St. 
Paul's. Fifth Edition. Post Svo. Ss. 6ti. 

POETICAL WORKS OF BISHOP HEBER. Por- 

trait Fcap. Svo. 3^. 6r/. 

HYMNS ADAPTED TO THE CHURCH SERVICE. 

By BISHOP HEBER. i6mo. is, 6d. 

MOTTOES FOR MONUMENTS ; or, Epitaphs selected 
for General Study and Application. By MRS. PALLISER. 
Illustrations. Crown Svo. Js. 6^. 

'* With such a helf) as this, judiciou.^ly circulated in a country parish, much that so 
often shocks by its incongruity in ' GokI's Acre,' might be gently got rid of. Over 
and above, however, its more immediate object, the book has a value of its own. It 
is a choice collection of holy thoughts which the living may lay to heart with profit in 
anticipation of the pzse." —Christian Obsenttr. 

THREE ESSAYS ON THE MAINTENANCE OF 

THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND AS AN ESTABLISHED 
CHURCH. By REV. CHARLES HOLE, REV. R. WAT- 
SON DIXON, and REV. JULIUS LLOYD. To which Mr. 
Peek's Prizes were awarded by the Marquis of Salisbury, Rev. 
Dr. Hessey, and Rev. Dr. Vaughan. Svo. lOr. 6d. 

*' These admirable and vigorous essays require few words to introduce and recom- 
mend them to the great body of its members. They are all admirable in point of 
style* clearness of argument, and moderation of tone. The three Essays taken toge- 
ther may be fairly considered as exhaustive ai the whole subject, and as furnishing a 
complete armotury of defence for future orators and wnUrs,'*-^StaMdarJ, 

PROVERBS ; or, words of human wisdom. 

Collected and Arranged. With Preface by CANON LIDDON. 
i6mo. 3 J. 6d. 



' The collection shows great judgment and wide reading. The Itook will take its 

nd among the most attractive oft) - . . . ^ . . . 

he gaiy.^—CAurcA Herald. 



stand among the most attractive of the season. It is a book for both the grave and 



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THEOLOGICAL AND RELIGIOUS PUBLICATIONS. 19 



THE ENGLISH CATHEDRALS. 



HANDBOOKS TO THE CATHEDRALS OF ENG- 

LAND AND WALES ; giving a History of each See, 
WITH Biographical Notices of the Bishops. By 
RICHARD J. KING, B.A., Exeter College, Oxford. 
Vols. L and II.— SOUTHERN DIVISION.— Winchester, 
Salisbury, Exeter, Wells, Rochester, Canter- 
bury, Chichester, and St. Albans. With i6o Illus- 
trations. 2 vols. Post 8vo. 36/. 

Vol. IIL — EASTERN DIVISION. — Oxford, Peter- 
borough, Lincoln, Norwich, and Ely. With 90 
Illustrations, i&r. 

Vol. IV.— WESTERN DIVISION.— Bristol, Gloucester, 
Worcester, Hereford, and Lichfield. With 50 
Illustrations. Post 8vo. i6s. 

Vols. V. and VI.— NORTHERN CATHEDRALS.— York, 
RiPON, Durham, Carlisle, Chester, and Manches- 
ter, With 60 Illustrations. 2 vols. Post 8vo. 21s, 

Vol. VIL— WELSH CATHEDRALS. — Llandaff, St. 
David's, St. Asaph's, and Bangor. With 40 Illustra- 
tions. PostSvo. iss, 

" Each cathedral has been described after careful personal examination. They are 
illustrated by engravings of the highest beauty and interest ; most of them represent- 
ing subjects or points of view which do not occur in Britton, executed for the most 
part by Mr. Jcwitt." — Quarteriy Review, 

" This very attractive; and valuable work may, indeed, be said to be by far the best 
guide-book to our Cathedrals. It is, in fact, a national work, as well as a Church 
work, and it is worthy of our Church and nation." — English Churchman, 

" It would be difficult to find any work in which the author has so carefully and 
successfully condensed information. He has succeeded in giving a thorough and re- 
liable history of each Cathedral, a scrupulously accurate and faithful description of 
each edifice, and a chronological narrative of the Bishops of each See." — Reltqnary. 

" This work is full of very valuable information, architectural, archaeological, his- 
torical, and artistic." — Saturday Review. 

** Handbooks that should provide a concise but correct history of the several Cathe- 
drals in this country have long been looked for, not only by antiquaries and ardii- 
tects^ but by all men of art or of letters. The illustrations are the best of their kind." 
— Literary Churchman. 

** These volumes will prove a great boon to the architectural student ; but they are 
so free from mere technical phraseology, and are so pleasantly written, that the gene- 
ral reader will be tempted to increase his knowledge of both the history and architec- 
ture of our great cathedrals."— 7<7/m Buil, 



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20 MR. MURBAY'S LIST OF 



WORKS ON THE HOLY LAND 



AND 



SURROUNDING COUNTRIES. 



HISTORY OF ANCIENT EGYPT. Derived from 

Montunents and Inscriptions. By Professor BRUGSCH, 
ofGottingcn. Timnslated by the late H. DANBY SEYMOUR. 
With Maps. 2 vols, 8vo. 

NINEVEH AND ITS REMAINS; a Popular Account 
OF Researches and Discoveries at Nineveh, during an 
Expedition to Assyria in 1845-7. By A. H. LA YARD. 
With numerous Illustrations. Post 8vo. 'js, 6d, 

''This new editioa hat been carefully revised. Subsequent discoveries amongst 
the ruins of Nineveh, and the progress made in the interpretation of the cuneiform 
inscriptions, have enabled the Author to add to the text, and have led him to modify 
some of the views which were expressed in his original woric. For the convenience 
of his readers he has added to the account of his visit to (the Yezidls, or Devil- 
Worshippers, originally published in 'Nineveh and its Remains,' the narrative of 
subsequent visits to that curious sect, contained in his work entitled ' Nineveh and 
Babylon.' He has thus brought together all the information which he has been able 
to collect concerning Xhtm,^— Pre/ace to the present edition. 

NINEVEH AND BABYLON: a Popular Narrative 
OF A Second Expedition to Assyria, 1849-51. By A. H. 
LAYARD. With numerous Illustrations. Post Svo. 7^. 6d. 

** This volume contains an abridgment of the narrative of my second expedition to 
Assyria and Babylonia, published in 1853, under the title of ' Nineveh and Babylon.* 
I have described, in the intixxluction, the principal discoveries on the site of Nineveh 
made after my return to England in the spring of 1851. Further researches amon£r 
the ruins after my departure from Assyria, and the contents of the Cuneiform 
inscriptions as deciphered by English and French scholars, have added to our 
knowledge ci the history, the language and the arts of the ancient Assyrians and 
Babyloniips, but they have not led me to modify, to any material extent, the views 
put forward in my original work. I have noticed in the following pages the most 
important results of the interpretation of the Assyrian \racnp&.oxk&** — Author's 
Pre/ace. 

"The various attempts that have been made to give popular descriptions of Mr. 
Layard's discoveries, have taught him the necessity of placing them in a popular 
form before the "qkAXxc:,** —Economist. 

" It is with much pleasure that we introduce to our readers the most interestingr 
contributions of the modem press. Such men as Mr. Layard deserve the gratitude 
of posterity." — Evangelical Magazine. 



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THEOLOGICAL AND RELIGIOUS PUBLICATIONS. 21 
THE FIVE GREAT MONARCHIES OF THE 

ANCIEN.T WORLD ; OR the History, Geography, and 
Antiquities of Assyria, Babylonia, Chald^ea, Media, and 
Persia. By GEORGE RAWLINSON, M.A., Canon of 
Canterbury, and Camden Professor of Ancient History at Oxford. 
Third Edition, with Maps and 600 illustrations. 3 vols. 8vo. 42". 

** Canon Rawlinson has placed within the reach of English readers all that we as 
yet know of those great fabrics of eastern power of which the names are so familiar to 
lis, and which affected more or less directly the history in which we are most 
interested. He has taken the subject in hand fully and comprehensively, and with 
the advantage of discoveries which are new since Niebuhr." — Saturday Review. 

** Professor Rawlinson's work well maintains the credit of the English scholarship, 
and while it lays openjnany curious records of the past, has a special value in its 
frequent elucidation and illustration of historical passages in Holy \fnV'— Record, 

THE LAND OF MOAB. Travels and Discoveries 

on the East Side of the Dead Sea and the Jordan. 
By the Rev. H. B. TRISTRAM, LL.D., F.R.S., Canon of 
Durham, Author of "The Land of Israel," ** Natural History of 
the Bible," &c. With Map and Illustrations. Crown 8vo. i$s, 

" Canon Tristram's party was ready for every emergency : however wild are the 
savages he meets, he has a missionary to spring on them who is familiar with their 
tongue and manners ; he has a botanist for every shrub ; and a photographer for 
every ruin. And besides all this, he is a host in himself— naturalist, philologer, 
antiquary, geologist, Nimrod ; he is equally ready with his gun and his fossil- 
hammer, his Bible or his Arabic ; equally adept in solving the difficulties of Bedouin 
etiquette or stuffing a vulture, or determining a site. And besides all this, he carries 
a pen, and a very deft and ready pen, and when there is anything to tell he knows 
how to tell it ; and so Moab has been reft from the domain of the unknown and 
unknowable, and lies all mapped out and photographed and described. Altogether 
the book is a very interesting one, and we can only hope future explorers will imitate 
Mr. Tristram's part in the zeal and thoroughness of its research. '—^a/«rrfrty 
Review. 



JOURNAL OF RESEARCHES IN THE HOLY 

LAND IN 1838 AND 1852. With Historical Illustrations. 
By EDWARD ROBINSON, D.D. Maps. 3 vols. 8vo. 42^. 

" Robinson's ' Biblical Researches ' has been our leading text-book on the geography 
of Palestine for twenty years. Until Eli Smith and Edward Robinson began their 
travels in 1838, little had been done towards a survey of the Holy Land which could 
pretend to be at once scientific and historical. Together they rode through the 
country, noting its aspects, fixing its sites, laying down its wadies and watercourses, 
its deserts and mountains.'*— -<4Mw<?w«, 



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22 MR. MUfiRAY'S LIST OF 



SINAI AND PALESTINE; IN CONNECTION 

WITH THEIR HISTORY. By DEAN STANLEY. Plans. 
8va 14s. 

CONTENTS. 

Connection of Sacred History and Sacred Geography— Egypt in relatkm to Israel- 
Peninsula of Sinai— Palestine— The heij^ and pasKS of Benjamin — Ephraim— 
The Maritime Plain— Jordan and the Dead Sea —Peraea— Plain of Esdraelon— 
Galilee— Sources of Jordan— Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon— The Gospel History 
—The Holy Places. 

THE BIBLE IN THE HOLY UND. Extracts from 

the above Work for Village Schools. By a Lady. Woodcuts. 
Fcap. 8vo. 2j. 6d, 

SIGNS AND WONDERS IN THE LAND OF 

HAM. A Description of the Ten Plagues of Egypt. 
WITH Ancient and Modern Parallels and Illustrations, 
By Rev. T. S. MILLINGTON, B.A. Post 8vo. 7s. 6d. 

" Mr. Millington illustrates Egyptian life and manners from Herodotus, Pliny, 
Plutarch, and ancient writers, and avails himself of every hint he can get from modem 
travellers ; but his chief source of illustration is older than Herodotus himself. He 
finds it in the paintings, sculptures, papyri, and inscriptions upon which modem 
Egyptologists have been so Imig at work. His book, which is agreeable and easy 
reading, is richly studded with good woodcuts. It is a capital Sunday book." — 
English Churchman. 

"A good work, well done, and just the book for the parish lending library ; but 
that is not all. We take it to be the fruit of a cotmtry clergyman's leisure hours. It 
will do much to popularise the results of the Egyptology of the present a^e. Those 
results are so many confirmations of the Mosaic record ; and the fact is emphatically 
one to be brought forward. We trust the book will be widely circulated. Mr. 
Millington has evidently given much thought to his task, and brought to it a con- 
siderable range of reading and an undoubted power of graphic description." — 
Literary Churchman, 

DAMASCUS, PALMYRA, LEBANON ; WITH 

TRAVELS AMONG THE GIANT CITIES OF BASHAN 
AND THE HAURAN. By Rev. J. L. PORTER. Woodcuts. 
Post 8vo. 7J. 6d. 

THE CRUISE OF THE "ROB ROY" ON THE 

JORDAN, NILE, RED SEA, GENNESARETH, &c A 
Canoe Cruise in Palestine and Egypt and the Waters of 
Damascus. By JOHN MACGREGOR, M.A. New Edition. 
With Maps and Illustrations. Post 8vo. yj. 6(/. 



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THEOLOGICAL AND RELIGIOUS PUBLICATIONS. 23 



THE MODERN CUSTOMS AND MANNERS OF 

BIBLE LANDS, ILLUSTRATIVE OF SCRIPTURE. By 
HENRY VAN-LENNEP, D.D. With Coloured Maps and 
300 Illustrations. 2 vols. 8vo. 2is, 

" The illustrations are excellent, and the whole book is an attractive collection of 
those facts which so much add to the intellectual appreciation of the Holy Scriptures." 
— Guardian. 

"Dr. Van-Lennep's work contains a mass of information on the manners and 
customs of Bible lands not readily accessible e\acwhtxeJ"—Aiketueum. 

" It is impossible to over-estimate the value of Dr. Lennep's work. So intensely 
reliable are the statements, that the more its pages are studied, so much the more 
conclusive will it appear that a better help to the Holy Scriptures can scarcely be 
expected ever to appear."— -fi^//** Weekly Messenger. 



TRAVELS IN ASIA MINOR. With Observations on 

■ the State of Society, and a Description of Antiquarian Researches 
and Discoveries, together with an Account of Missionary Labours, 
Illustrations of Biblical Literature and Archaeology. By HENRY 
VAN-LENNEP, D.D., Thirty Years Resident in Turkey. With 
Map and Illustrations. 2 vols. Post 8vo. 24^. 

*' Dr. Van-Lennep has written an interesting book respecting regions which, in the 

S resent day of geographical inc^uiry, do not receive the attention they deserve at the 
lands of either travellers or antiquaries. He confines his descriptions of scenery and 
remarks upon the people entirely to what he himself saw ; and having a great deal of 
matter to narrate, he has not been under the necessity, like several modem travellers, 
of eking out the substance of his information by referring to observations of other 
explorers, or by mam^cturod digressions of a scientific character."— /^f-ccm/. 



THE MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF THE 

ANCIENT EGYPTIANS. Their Private Life, Government, 
Laws, Arts, Manufactures, Religion, Agriculture, Early History, 
&c. Derived from a comparison of the Paintings, Sculptures, and 
Monuments still existing, with the accounts of Ancient Authors. 
By the late Sir J. G. WILKINSON, l^'.R.S. A new and revised 
Edition, containing the author's latest corrections. Edited by 
SAMUEL BIRCH, LL.D. With more than 500 Illustrations. 
3 vols. 8vo. 

THE TEMPLE OF JERUSALEM. And the other 

Buildings in the Haram Area, from Solomon to Sala- 
DIN. By JAMES FERGUSSON, D.C.L., F.R.S. With 
numerous Illustrations. 4to. 



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u 



MR. MURRAY'S LIST. 



AN ATLAS OF ANCIENT GEOGRAPHY. 

Stblual antf dsaiital. 

Intended to Blustrate the " Dictionary of the Bible," and the 
"Dictionaries of Classical Antiquity." 

COMPILED UNDER THE SIPERINTENDENCB OF 

Dr. WM. smith and Mr. GEORGE GROVE. 
Folio. Half-bound. £6 6s. 



Geographical Systems op 
Ancients. 

as known to 



THE 



THE 



THE Babylonians, 
Medes, and Per< 



Alexander the 



2. The World 

Ancients. 

3. Empires of 

Lydians, 

SIANS. 

4. Empire o 

Great. 

5. 6. Kingdoms of the Successors 

OF Alexander the Great. 

7. The Roman Empire in its great- 

est extent. 

8. The Roman Empire after its 

division into the Eastern and 
Western Empires. 

9. Greek and Phcbnician Colonies. 

19. Environs of Rome. 

20. Greece after the Doric Migra- 

tion. 

21. Greece during the Persian 

Wars. 



22. Greece during the Peloponne- 

siAN War. 

23. Greece during the Ach^an 

League. 

24. Northern Greece. 

25. Central Greece— Athens. 

26. Peloponnesus.— With Plan of 

Sparta. 

27. Shores and Islands of the 

iEoEAN Sea. 

28. Historical Maps of Asia Minor. 

29. Asia Minor. 

30. Arabia. 

31. India. 

32. Northern Part of Africa. 

33. iECYPT AND iETHIOPIA, 

34. Historical Maps of the Holy 

Land. 
42, 43. Plans of Babylon, Nineveh, 
Troy, Alexandria, and Byzan- 
tium. 



"The students of Dr. Smith's admirable Dictionaries must have felt themselves in 
want of an Atlas constructed on the same scale of precise and minute information 
with the article they were reading. This want has at length been supplied by the 
superb work before us. The indices are full, the engravmg is exquisite, and the 
delineation of the natural features very minute and beautiful. It may safely be pro- 
nounced—and hieher praise can scarcely be bestowed — to be a worthy companion of 
the volumes whi<m it is intended to illustrate." — GMardiatu 

" This Atlas is intended to be a companion to the Dictionary of the Bible and the 
Classical Dictionaries. The maps are all new ; thev have been construct«i according 
to the highest and most recent authorities, and executed by the most eminent 
engravers. The artistic execution of this important and superb work is peerless. Each 
map is a picture. Their accuracy is of course beyond suspicion, although only 
continuous use can really test it." — British Quarterly Review. 

Whether large or small, we have certainly no such a thoroughly 
satisfactory set of Maps elsewhere : and this Atlas may almost claim an 
international value, for it has profited by both English and foreign 
help, and the Maps have been executed by the most eminent engravers 
both in London and Paris. 



\ifi 



JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET. 



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